Thursday, November 27, 2014


Yes Virginia, both these Masses at St. Joseph Church face the symbolic or liturgical east, both are ad orientem! Why? because the celebrant of the Mass faces a crucifix in front of him (although barely seen in the first photo) and does so also when the celebrant faces the same direction as the congregation. The crucifix for both the congregation and the laity is the point of the symbolic or liturgical east according to Pope Benedict. Thus when facing the congregation, the celebrant must have a crucifix in front of him for him to see and orient himself as the point of the symbolic or liturgical east where the crucifixion occurred in Jerusalem.

When the celebrant faces this way, the common crucifix for the celebrant and congregation doesn't work and thus an additional crucifix central on the altar for the celebrant to see is required for the "symbolic" ad orientem or facing eastward liturgically:

 When the priest faces this way a common crucifix or both the celebrant and congregation is all that is needed:

Those who think it is retro to celebrate the Catholic Mass toward the east like Bishop James Conley does in his ultra modern cathedral are apoplectic that this tradition is finding a recovery in the 21st century.

Yet, this tradition of the celebrant facing eastward for the Mass is the most ancient tradition of the Church and still maintained by the eastern rite of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

However, traditionalists who have a narrow view of ad orientem should reorient their narrow view to a wider one. At St. Joseph Church, no matter which way the priest faces the altar, toward the nave or toward the apse, symbolically he is facing the liturgical east. Why?  Because of the placement of the crucifix in front of the celebrant, not the direction the priest and people are geographically facing.

At the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, the celebrant faces the geographic west  toward St. Peter’s Basilica. Symbolically Saints Peter and Paul face each other. At all the major basilicas in Rome beginning with Rome's cathedral, St. John Lateran, the first to be built by Constantine when Catholicism became the law of the Roman Empire, basilicas were built with a free standing altar and the celebrant facing the geographical east while at the same time facing those in the nave who faced him.

The ancient great basilicas all had the celebrant facing the geographical east all the while facing the nave except for St. Paul’s. When the Church was able to go public in Rome with St. John Lateran the celebrant facing the geographical east was the earliest tradition for church buildings, but the real question is when did the symbolic “liturgical east” develop?

It is important to keep in mind that after Vatican II the major basilicas did not have to reorient their altars whatsoever. the novelty, though that developed in the late 1960's or early 70's was the reorientation of candlesticks and the central crucifix. At St. Peter's the novelty was for very low flung candlesticks and no crucifix. Then Pope St. John Paul placed four taller candlesticks on its altar and a large crucifix, but it was to the side, not central.

 Pope Benedict recovered  the emphasis on the central crucifix on the altar even when the celebrant faces the nave, thus the crucifix becomes the point of the symbolic liturgical east, not necessarily the direction of the celebrant.

 It seems both traditions in this regard, the central crucifix or celebrant and congregation facing the same direction developed in close proximity. In the immediate aftermath of Vatican II when the altars were repositioned a central crucifix still remained for some years until liturgists decided otherwise somewhere in the very late 1960′s or early 70′s. They didn’t want the elements of bread and wine (consecrated or not) to be in competition with candles and cross or obscured by these let alone the celebrant. The whole concept of competition with what is on the altar and being able to see the bread and wine prior to consecration and afterward seems to be the modern novelty (abuse) based upon an over-emphasis on meal to the detriment of sacrifice. Of course the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is both sacrifice and banquet, not either/or but both/and.

In my parish one of our four Sunday (Ordinary Form) Masses is toward the apse for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but for all Masses here, there is still a central crucifix although low-flung on the altar serving the purpose that Pope Benedict suggests. And in my church when I face the congregation I am facing geographically eastward and when facing away, geographically westward but all Masses are symbolically eastward. I love ad orientem! Don't you?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I am annoyed with the various "marshmallow world" commercials for Target. They are trying to get us to go there and buy Christmas presents but they refuse to use the term Christmas in any of their ads or even the more secular Holiday. Now it is a marshmallow world in the winter! A winter festival in other words.

I dislike that commerce exploits Christmas to no end for financial gain, but I despise Target's attempt at making Christmas into something else altogether. Let's boycott Target!


I have a disclaimer, I do wear my watch during Mass and on the right wrist because years ago I developed a rash under the watch on my left wrist.

But prior to Vatican II, it was the custom to remove one's watch to celebrate Mass so that nothing would distract from the elevations and at other times during the Mass.

Today even modern popes wear their watch during Mass, I think beginning with St. Pope John Paul II and continuing with Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis (unfortunately Pope Francis even looks at his watch during Mass, ugh!).

The other thing I don't like, and never have done is wear a ring since becoming a priest. I think only a bishop should wear a ring and certainly no priest should every wear rings during the celebration of the Mass! How tacky!

But with that said, is Bishop Conley's watch a distraction?


I saw this at the Deacon's Bench! Cool, no?
From The Catholic Review in Baltimore:
A man fishing at the Loch Raven Reservoir in north Baltimore County some two decades ago was convinced he had snagged a big fish after his line hooked something substantial.
After reeling in his haul, the angler had no fish. He had, however, caught something even more remarkable: a large Gothic monstrance used by Catholics to hold the Eucharist for worship.
Unsure what the ornate object was, but thinking it looked “churchy,” the man took the monstrance to a local Catholic church. A priest examined the vessel, suggesting that the man take the beautiful brass finding to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, where it subsequently remained in storage for years.
During a joyous Nov. 23 Mass that attracted hundreds of people to the historic basilica, Archbishop William E. Lori placed the consecrated host inside the restored monstrance fished from the water and carried it in a solemn procession to the church’s undercroft.
There, he placed the monstrance atop a gleaming altar inside a new adoration chapel that he dedicated to be used in a special way to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
“Using a monstrance fished out of a lake, we will ask the Lord to send us new ‘fishers of men,’ ” Archbishop Lori said in his homily prior to dedicating the new chapel, “both here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and in the whole church.”
How the monstrance found its way into the reservoir is a mystery, Archbishop Lori said, “but how it found its way here to the basilica is a remarkable sign of God’s providence.”
Archbishop Lori announced that the new adoration chapel will be dedicated to the basilica’s 24th rector, Monsignor Arthur Valenzano, in gratitude for his “goodness and priestly example.” The surprise announcement stirred the congregation to give the priest a prolonged standing ovation during which Monsignor Valenzano, who is battling cancer, smiled and placed a hand over his heart.
Monsignor Valenzano established a small adoration chapel in the same spot as the new one in 2011. It is located near the tombs of several archbishops of Baltimore, including the nation’s first bishop, Archbishop John Carroll.
The new chapel features an altar inspired by the basilica’s side altars in the upper church.
The adoration chapel altar includes an octagonal baldacchino, a canopy with metal shingles that Archbishop Lori said were set in a pattern inspired by the design of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
“The tiles of blue glass which cover the interior of the baldacchino and serve as a backdrop for the monstrance recall the water of the lake from which the monstrance emerged,” Archbishop Lori said, “and also the words of the Lord to the Apostles, the first fishers of men, to ‘put out into the deep.’ ”
Read more.


Except for House Hunters and House Hunters International and maybe Bizarre Foods and a couple of other HGTV shows, I hate reality television shows, like the Housewives of Atlanta and the Kardashians, so you get my drift?

But will this Lifetime Television show make it? Will it inspire more vocations to women's religious orders? At least Lifetime knew that the ratings would plummet if they chose an LCWR group of women religious to be the orders that these girls would consider, just like LCWR vocations have plummeted. So there is some good logic here that even TV execs know but the LCWR types are complete obliviously, in denial in other words.

But here's the movie trailer:


When I die and go to heaven (I know, I know, I'm being presumptions here), I want to find out as quickly as possible who assassinated President Kennedy and the behind the scenes intrigue.

And now retired Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has elevated a conspiracy theory about the election of Pope Francis to an unnecessary level with a letter to the editor in London's Daily Telegraph on November 25th, three days after the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. You can read the whole story on it HERE. Again, this is DaVinci Code stuff. I'm sure a movie based on the book will soon follow:
"Papal Plot" would be a good name for the new movie produced by Oppie Taylor, I mean Ronnie Howard!


Bishop Jame Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska celebrates the Ordinary Form of the Mass in his ultra-modern Cathedral (I think it was built in the late 1960's, but I don't know for sure).  But with the traditional altar accoutrements and the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem in this con-celebrated Ordinary Form Mass, even the modern Risen Christ imposed on the cross, popular in the late 1960's and 70's doesn't look bad.

In fact, the most modern church in the round even, would be vastly improved with the traditional altar arrangement and ad orientem Mass.

I've always thought the stripping of the altar of its tall six candlesticks and central crucifix really made the altar and sanctuary look bare. I hated it the first Sunday I saw it in my home parish in Augusta (without any word from the pastor as to why it what done, btw) in the late 1960's.  It had two small rinky-dink candles on it and the priest's chair behind it in the central place where the tabernacle had been with the tabernacle moved to a side altar. As a young teenager the symbolism of this to me was that the priest had elevated himself to the starring role of the church building and Christ in the tabernacle had been demoted. It was incongruous to me at the time and still is today.

But anyway here is some liturgical eye-candy:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


John Allen at CRUX writes about Pope Francis and the two most powerful speeches of his pontificate today directed towards Europe's ruling class:

STRASBOURG, France — History’s first pope from outside the West traveled to the heart of secular Europe Tuesday and delivered a sharp wake-up call, warning European leaders that the continent risks irrelevance if it doesn’t recover its founding values, drawing in part on its Christian legacy.

Pope Francis delivered back-to-back speeches to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe that amounted to a strong call to Europe to get both its social and its spiritual house in order.

Before roughly 750 members of the European parliament, Francis bluntly said today’s world is becoming “less and less Eurocentric,” that Europe often comes off as “elderly and haggard,” that it’s less and less a “protagonist” in global affairs, and that the rest of the planet sometimes sees it “with mistrust and even suspicion.”

“Where is your vigor?” Francis asked the Council of Europe, deliberately speaking through it to the entire continent. “Where is that idealism that inspired and ennobled your history?”

Despite being on the ground just four hours, Francis’ presence seemed historic since, in a sense, the New World was meeting the Old Continent.

Speaking in Italian, Francis argued that many of the specific political problems facing Europe, from immigration and extremism to rising youth unemployment, have a spiritual core. He denounced what he called a “cult of opulence which is no longer sustainable,” based on exaggerated individualism that breeds violations of human dignity.
To shake off its malaise, he said, Europe needs to recover a sense of values and mission, one foundation for which is religious conviction.

“A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life,” Francis said, “is a Europe which risks losing its own soul.”

Francis said that despite his sober diagnosis, he wanted to deliver a message of “hope and encouragement” that Europe can dust off its original vision, based on the post-World War II founders of the European Union who were often inspired by Christian ideals, including the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
Tuesday’s brief day trip had been billed as the pontiff’s chance to lay out a vision for Europe and he didn’t disappoint, delivering two of the most substantive speeches of his papacy in a span of less than four hours.

The European Parliament is the lone institution whose members are directly elected by the 500 million citizens living in 28 member states of the European Union, while the Council of Europe brings together 47 countries whose combined population is more than 800 million. Francis’ appearance marked the second time a pontiff has addressed these two institutions, after John Paul II in 1988.

(On that occasion, the late Ian Paisley, then-leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestants, had to be dragged out of the parliament chamber while denouncing the pope as the Anti-Christ. No such disruption marred today’s speech, as Francis drew strong applause at several points and an extended standing ovation at the end.)

Heading into the trip, Francis was expected to engage the hot-button questions facing Europe’s political class: rising immigration and youth unemployment, gains posted in May by far-right nationalistic movements, and backlash against austerity measures imposed by many governments as part of the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

The pope did raise several such issues. On hunger, for instance, the pontiff said “it is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying … while tons of food are discarded every day from our tables.”

On labor, Francis said “the time has come to promote policies which create employment,” and to “restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions.”

“What dignity can a person ever hope to find,” the pope asked the parliament, “when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival, and worse yet, when they lack the work that confers dignity?”

Some of the pope’s most passionate language came in a call for “fair, courageous and realistic” immigration policies, especially on behalf of waves of poor migrants from Africa and the Middle East who often try to reach Europe by making perilous crossings over the Mediterranean Sea.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!” the pope said, referring to the estimated 20,000 people who have died over the past two decades attempting to make the journey.

As other victims of what Francis once again denounced as a “throw-away culture,” Francis cited “the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.”

Francis also delivered a strong ecological message, saying “our earth needs constant concern and attention” and insisted that it must not be “disfigured, exploited and degraded.”

Francis took up one of the standard complaints lodged against European political institutions, which is that they suffocate diversity under a bland bureaucratic uniformity. Resentments along those lines have been credited with fueling the rise of far-right Euro-skeptic parties, including the National Front in France and the “Five Star” movement of comedian Beppe Grillo in Italy.

“Unity does not mean uniformity of political, economic, and cultural life, or ways of thinking,” the pope said. “Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up.”

On most of those points, the pope drew strong applause. The heart of his argument, however, seemed to cut deeper than a laundry list of specific political concerns.

Francis rued what he called a “great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West,” including “forgetfulness of God.” In place of a humanistic vision, he said, what Europe breeds today are “uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires.”

Francis insisted that recovering Europe’s Christian history and entering into “meaningful” and “open” dialogue with its religious traditions “does not represent a threat to the secularity of states, or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union.”

Instead, he said, it’s the basis for “a humanism centered on respect for the dignity of the human person.”

The 2,000-year history that links Europe and Christianity, he said, “isn’t free of conflicts and errors, even sins,” but at its best, it’s driven by “the desire work for the good of all.”

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was often accused of being “Eurocentric,” in the sense of focusing excessively on European culture. To date, Francis has faced the opposite charge, often being seen as neglectful of Europe in favor of focusing on zones of greater growth and dynamism for the Catholic Church today, such as Asia and Africa.

Yet Francis’ twin speeches on Tuesday suggested that substantively he’s got much the same agenda for Europe as his two predecessors, and both texts frequently cited John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
In fact, his Strasbourg speeches were arguably the most “Ratzingerian” texts of Francis’ papacy, featuring references and vocabulary often associated with Pope Benedict: The risks of “dictatorships of relativism,” as well as a philosophical tendency to see human beings as radically isolated “monads.”

In other words, this may have been a pope from the New World, but the message for the Old Continent hasn’t changed: If Europe wants to save its soul, it needs to make room for values inspired in part by its Christian past.


If the Congregation for Divine Worship simply emphasizes the sobriety of the Latin Rite Mass and its reverence and piety, then the Congregation for Divine Worship will have provided an "immensity of majesty" ethos for the Liturgy and its proper celebration throughout the world, which this photo below does not convey in the least. May this come to an end!
 What can we expect from the Congregation for Divine Worship under Cardinal Sarah? I'm not sure, because this congregation has moved slowly but methodically over the years and in a more orthodox, traditional way since St. Pope John Paul II. He ordered the revision of the English translation of the Mass as far back as the late 1980's. He revised the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in 2002.

The unknowns concern the vernacular revisions of the Roman Missal. The one in English is completed. I don't see any major change by going backwards  in any dramatic way with future revisions of the English Roman Missal. I do think there will be some tweaking, but that will be minor and most laity won't even notice it.

For example, some of the phrasing and/or wording of the Prefaces of the revised English need some tweaking. The Preface for Christ the King has this oddity: "the immensity of your majesty." Certainly there is a better way to translate this?

But we still await the Italian revision and the Portuguese revision (being one of the worst of all translations) as well as other translations. Will the translating method be changed? Will it be shifted to Bishops' Conferences. If these things happen, then yes, we will be going backwards, not walking forwards.

What has happened with the Congregation for Divine Worship since Pope Francis became pope that might give us some indication of where this congregation will go?

First of all many things that Pope Francis approved where in the works under Pope Benedict. Pope Francis confirmed these right away:

1. The name of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was added to all Eucharistic Prayers. It was first added to the Roman Canon under the pontificate of St. Pope John XXIII. Pope Francis approved this immediately, within weeks of becoming Pope.

2. The revised Anglican Ordinariate Roman Missal was approved by Pope Francis. It allows Elizabethan English for the Mass, a revised Roman Calendar that is more like the EF's Calendar while still faithful to the Ordinary Form's Lectionary. It allows in the appendix, EF elements to be used as an option for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Ad Orientem, Holy Communion kneeling, the EF's Offertory Prayers and the Last Gospel, all as options.

In my mind, the Anglican Ordinariate's Revised Roman Missal is the big news of this Pontificate. Pope Francis approved it, although it was certainly prepared under Pope Benedict. Pope Francis could have certainly revised it or ordered its approval delayed after evaluation of it. He did not.

I'm not sure why other bloggers do not understand the significance of this revised Missal which was a collaboration of both the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In fact, when I was in Rome last year at a visit to the Congregation for Divine Worship, I asked an official there if we could expect the options allowed to the Anglican Ordinariate Missal to be applied to the Ordinary Latin Rite Missal. He said, if there are advocates for it, certainly.

I would think there are advocates. I believe Cardinal Burke still sits on the Congregation for Divine Worship as a member of one of its committees. Does anyone know if this is still true? He would be a wonderful advocate.

3. Finally, this congregation issued a decree that the Kiss of Peace would not be moved to a different location in the Ordinary Form of the Mass but it mandated that it be sober and that it is merely an option, not required.

So Cardinal Sarah, given the immensity of the majesty of his orthodoxy, will continue a trajectory for the Congregation that is already established but he will do so as Rocco Palma indicates:

...The office's new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis' own liturgical approach – as one op summarized it, "Go by the book. Don't make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy's always a means to an end, not an end in itself."

Not only can I live with Rocco's summary, I wholeheartedly endorse it for everyone in the Church! I also endorse Cardinal Sarah as the next successor of Saint Peter!

As I have said time and again, I love both forms of the Mass and want both forms celebrated as prescribed. The Ordinary Form has many options. These are legitimate but regardless of the options, this Mass needs to recover reverence, piety and awe and it can easily be accomplished on the local level when there is attention to detail and small reforms are initiated. 

But our worship of God at Mass is meant to make us disciples of Jesus in order to bring our faith and good works to the world. Our lives as Catholics should be so attractive that it will draw others to consider what makes a Catholic different and Catholic lives so beautiful.

Is there a beauty in post-Vatican II Catholics' everyday lives? I honestly ask that question especially of the laity. Are Catholics living beautiful lives that attract others to our faith or are they not? 

Monday, November 24, 2014


 We all know that Cardinal Kasper was defacto the mouthpiece of Pope Francis in floating the ideology that Catholics in a second marriage while still being in a Church recognized first marriage could receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances after a penitential act of some kind.

Then at the Synod on the Marriage the next logical consequence of allowing Catholics in an "institutionalized" form of mortal sin, an adulteress second marriage, would be for those who are living together without the benefit of marriage to receive Holy Communion and for same sex couples even in legal so-called marriages to do the same by legitimizing the ideology of gradualism in a so-called new doctrine of pastoral care. 

Then an act of God took place. Cardinal Kasper made racist's remarks to Edward Pentin a reporter saying that Africans have nothing to teach us. It was stunning in and of itself but to add insult to injury Cardinal Kasper lied to the international press and said he had said nothing of any sort until Edward Pentin produced an audio recording proving the Cardinal did say it showing he was not only a racist in this regard but a bald face liar. It was stunning!

Immediately Pope Francis had to distance himself from his mouthpiece. He had to name an African  who was critical of the manipulation of the Synod and evidently with Pope Francis' backing, to a leading position in writing the final agreement that was very conservative.

This whole affair was a turning point for this papacy and high ranking cardinals and not only Americans began to question Pope Francis' style of leadership and the confusion he is sowing in the Church as aging hippies in the Magisterium long for the good old days of the 1970's and are trying to bring it back by making bishops and priests into social workers and the Church into a non-governmental organization (NGO). Folks, that is what was happening in the 1970's and the theology of the priesthood shifted from the cultic to social worker status. The same for the laity's baptismal priesthood too!

Because Pope Francis had aligned himself so closely with a now percieved racist and liar, His Holiness had to distance himself from Kasper and show that His Holiness takes the orthodoxy of Africans seriously. Now in a effort at even greater damage control, His Holiness has named Cardinal Robert Sarah as the only African in the Curia thus far under this pope's pontificate.

Would this have happened without the Holy Spirit revealing the true nature of Cardinal Kasper????Was the Edward Pentin affair only coincidental? I doubt it!

Read also what John Allen wrote about Robert Cardinal Allen prior to the conclave when he had a series of articles in the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) on the "Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope" by pressing this sentence!

I post Fr. Z's post about Cardinal Sarah as it has links to show that Cardinal Sarah would have none of this making God's priestly people, be they ordained or not, into social workers where authentic worship is regarded as secondary or even non-important:

Pope Francis has appointed Robert Card. Sarah, 69, as the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Hitherto, Card. Sarah, from Guinea, has been the head of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.
Not long ago, I posted here about Card. Sarah’s remarks concerning the poor.
Cardinal Sarah, citing Benedict XVI, told CNA that “charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity is not only giving food, giving material things, but giving God too. Because the main lack of man is not having God.
Also, he seems to have seen through the machinations of a certain element active during the recent Synod of Bishops on the family regarding homosexuality.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, emphasized to CNA Oct. 16 that “what has been published by the media about homosexual unions is an attempt to push the Church (to change) her doctrine.”
“The Church has never judged homosexual persons, but homosexual behavior and homosexual unions are grave deviations of sexuality,” the cardinal, who is from the west African nation of Guinea, added.
Card. Sarah wasn’t happy about the manipulation of the Synod.  HERE
I think it was precisely this sort of input from Africans that Card. Kasper feared during the Synod.


Francis has nominated the 69-year-old African cardinal as head of the Congregation that handles affairs relating to liturgical practices in the Catholic Church. He fills the position that was left vacant by Cañizares

Everyone was on tenterhooks waiting to see who would take over from Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The answer came at midday today: The man Francis has chosen to lead the dicastery that deals with liturgical affairs of the Church, is Cardinal Robert Sarah, currently President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, one of the Curia bodies that is eventually going to be merged as part of the Curia reform process.

Cardinal Sarah was born to Catholic family on 15 June 1945 in Ourous, Guinea. He was ordained priest on 20 July 1969 in Conakry and studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a licentiate in Scripture at the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem. In 1979, John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Conakry at the young age of 34. He was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giovanni Benelli, who was formerly Nuncio to Senegal. In 1985 he was appointed President of the Guinean Bishops’ Conference.

In October 2001 he moved to Rome after John Paul II nominated him Secretary of Propaganda Fide. Nine years later, on 7 October 2010, Benedict XVI chose him as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and created him cardinal of the Deaconry of San Giovanni Bosco in Via Tuscolana (Saint John Bosco in Via Tuscolana) in the November Consistory. Sarah is Guinea-Bissau’s first cardinal.

After today’s nomination, the Vatican has an African cardinal leading a Vatican Congregation once again. Nigerian cardinal Francis Arrinze was Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008, while Cardinal Bernardin Gantin from Benin headed the Congregation for Bishops from 1984 to 1998.

“The Lord has given me a gift I do not deserve and it is also a call to love the Lord even more on the occasion of the Consistory; it is also a call to love the Lord more and to die for Him, for the Gospel, for the salvation of the world… I would like to thank the Holy Father for deciding to grant me this honour. However, I also see this call as having come from God; it is a call to me to lead a more priestly and Christian life. I think today’s world needs God’s people, people who live their lives in such a way that they represent God’s physical presence in the world.”

Sarah is known for his deep spirituality: In nominating him head of the Church’s liturgical dicastery, Francis has chosen a pastor with 22 years of experience leading a diocese. In recent years the new Prefect for Worship attracted a great deal of media attention  after he reminded the world that Africa was exploited by international powers and after a homily he pronounced in 2011 during an ordination ceremony for priests and deacons at the Communauté Saint-Martin in Candes. On this occasion, there was a big focus on liturgical formation and Sarah reminded pastors of their duty to faithfully announce Jesus’ teachings and urged them not to keep quiet about “serious” moral “deviations” 

In an interview with Catholic news agency Zenit last 23 October, the newly-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship talked about the recently held Extraordinary Synod on the Family and said he did not see the question of the Eucharist for Catholics who divorce who remarry, as one of the “real important challenges that affect families today.” “The crisis of today’s family is in how the concept of marriage and family has changed” as a result of “the effects of a secular and relativistic society.” In another interview with Catholic New Agency published last month, Cardinal Sarah criticised international bodies for making financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.

The profile of Robert Sarah, a Curia member with a long experience serving as a pastor in Africa, is rather traditional: On 24 October he had a meeting with priests taking part in the annual Roman pilgrimage of faithful that celebrate mass according to the Old Rite. Hia arrival as head of the dicastery for Worship is therefore unlikely to herald any innovations in the liturgical field.

Those who know Cardinal Sarah well, say he is leaving his current position as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – the Pope’s international emergency charity service with a certain trepidation. They also say that the African cardinal took some time to reflect on the nomination which is why it was not announced in a matter of days or weeks. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was also informed some time ago – around the same time rumours started going round in the media – about his transferral from the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura to the Order of the Knights of Malta. In fact he was informed about this before the Synod, which would prove wrong those who speculated that his removal and new nomination were to do with the views he expressed during the recent Synod Assembly on the family.


These two things are GREAT! as Tony the Tiger says:

Cardinal Sarah had distinguished himself as one of the strongest conservative voices at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this year. 

From a 2012 address on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, in Lyon (France):
The spirit of the Council has at times been understood in a wrong way, as, for instance, in the temptation of making use of the criteria of the world to engage in dialogue with the world. I think in particular of liturgical abuses, of the downsizing of salvation to a temporal messianism, to an understanding of the Christian life as a sort of humanitarian commitment, to the foundation of social actions inspired by dialectic, and therefore losing the originality of the Christian message. But "opening up to the world" does not mean abolishing the contradiction between the Gospel and the world, nor to tone down the Christian message. It is rather to present to our world the message of the Gospel in all its purity. It is Christ who is the light of the world, as the Council affirms.  
 --From Rorate Caeli