Flickr / Luc Mercelis


Andrea Gagliarducci FAITH MAGAZINE January - February 2015

Cardinal Sarah Appointment Signals Decisive Tone for the Pope’s Reform of the Curia 

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea has been appointed prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments – a decision that sets a decisive tone for Curial reform.

The cardinal’s first steps were announced to the heads of the Vatican’s departments during their meeting with the Pope.

Until his appointment, Cardinal Sarah had served as president of the pontifical council Cor Unum. He takes over the post of prefect of a congregation whose ranks have been profoundly changed since the previous prefect, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, was appointed archbishop of Valencia on 28 August 2014.

Fr Anthony Ward and Msgr Miguel Anguel Ferrer, the two undersecretaries of the congregation, were released with immediate effect on 5 November and replaced by Fr Corrado Maggioni, who was promoted to the post of unique undersecretary on 13 November.

“Cardinal Sarah takes over as prefect of a congregation whose ranks have been profoundly changed since his predecessor was appointed archbishop of Valencia”

This round of appointments came as a surprise, as Fr Ward had been an official of the congregation’s English section for more than 15 years. For his part, Msgr Ferrer was a personal choice of Cardinal Cañizares, with whom he shared a particular sensitivity for the traditional Latin Mass.

Msgr Maggioni, on the other hand, is a disciple of Archbishop Piero Marini, formerly the papal master of ceremonies of John Paul II, who is known for being enthusiastic for innovative forms of the liturgy.

With his taste and experience, Cardinal Sarah is called to rebalance the Congregation for Divine Worship. The cardinal thus leaves the pontifical council Cor Unum, which is likely to be absorbed into a bigger congregation.

Cardinal Sarah went to a private audience with Pope Francis on 13 November. According to Vatican sources, the cardinal was requested to give his perspective on the possible enrolling of his dicastery into a larger structure, and he gave the Pope his suggestions. He was also asked if he was available for this new post.

The placement of Cardinal Sarah is the first of a series of major appointments. The Secretariat of State’s new “foreign minister”, Archbishop Paul Gallagher from Britain, was appointed last week.

It is expected that a new substitute for general affairs will also soon be chosen, thus replacing Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who has held the position as third in command since Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.

If the archbishop were to be moved, it would be another signal of Pope Francis’s aim to shape the Secretariat of State with people chosen directly by the current secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Faith Magazine