Cardinal-Deacon of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana|
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Sarah in 2015
|Appointed||23 November 2014|
|Predecessor||Antonio Cañizares Llovera|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Deacon of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana|
20 July 1969|
by Raymond-Maria Tchidimbo
8 December 1979|
by Giovanni Benelli
20 November 2010|
by Benedict XVI
15 June 1945|
Ourous, French Guinea
Sufficit tibi gratia mea|
"My grace is sufficient for thee"
|Coat of arms|
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Robert Sarah[pronunciation?] (born 15 June 1945) is a Guinean prelate of the Catholic Church. A Cardinal since 20 November 2010, he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis on 23 November 2014. He previously served as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples under Pope John Paul II, and president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum under Pope Benedict XVI.
A prominent voice of the College of Cardinals and in the Roman Curia, Sarah has been a forceful advocate for the defense of traditional Catholic teaching on questions of sexual morality and the right to life, and in denouncing Islamic radicalism. He has called gender ideology and ISIS the "two radicalizations" that threaten the family, the first through divorce, same-sex marriage, and abortion, and the latter with child marriage, polygamy, and the subjection of women.
Though he has been described as largely sympathetic to pre-Vatican II liturgical practices, he has also proposed that partisans of different liturgies learn from each other and seek a middle ground.
He has been mentioned as a possible candidate, a "papabile", for the papacy by international media outlets such as Le Monde, as well as by Catholic publications such as Crux, the National Catholic Reporter, and the Catholic Herald.
Early life and education
Sarah was born in Ourous, a village in then rural French Guinea, on 15 June 1945, the son of converts to Christianity from animism. He is a member of the Coniaguis ethnic group in northern Guinea.  In 1957, at age 12, he entered Saint Augustine Minor Seminary in Bingerville, Ivory Coast, where he studied for three years. Because in 1960 relations between newly independent Guinea and the Ivory Coast were strained, he continued his studies briefly in Conakry, Guinea, at Saint Mary of Dixinn Seminary run by the Holy Ghost Fathers, until the radical government of Guinea expropriated church property in August 1961. After independent study at home, the church negotiated a place for Sarah and some fellow seminarians at a government-run school in Kindia in March 1962 and then won the right to open a seminary, where Sarah earned his baccalaureate in 1964. In September of that year he was sent to study at the Grand Seminary in Nancy, France. Again deteriorating international relations, this time between Guinea and France, forced him to interrupt his studies, and he completed his theological studies in Sébikotane, Senegal, between October 1967 and June 1969. From 1969 to 1974 he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained a licentiate in theology, except for the year 1971 which he spent at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem, where he obtained a licentiate in Sacred Scriptures.
Presbytariate and episcopate
Ordination history of
Sarah was ordained to the priesthood on 20 July 1969, and incardinated in the Diocese of Conakry. On 13 August 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him Metropolitan Archbishop of Conakry. He was consecrated bishop on 8 December 1979 by Cardinal Giovanni Benelli. He served as Conakry's bishop for more than twenty years and during that tenure filled terms as president of the Guinean bishops' conference and of the Episcopal Conference of West Africa.
On 20 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made him Cardinal-Deacon of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana. He has the right to vote in papal conclaves until his 80th birthday. He was a cardinal elector in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.
On 1 October 2001, John Paul II named him secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a post he held for ten years. He used the occasion of his departure from Guinea, when he was awarded the country's highest honor, to condemn the government of Lansana Conté. He said that Guinean society was "built on the oppression of the insignificant by the powerful, on contempt for the poor and the weak, on the cleverness of poor stewards of the public good, on the bribery and corruption of the administration and the institutions of the republic".
In October 2010 he was appointed president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which carries responsibility for organising Catholic relief efforts worldwide. He was the second African appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to lead a Vatican dicastery. The first was Peter Cardinal Turkson of Ghana who was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009.
On 23 November 2014, Pope Francis appointed Sarah as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
On 21 January 2016, Sarah announced that participation in the Holy Thursday foot-washing rite (the mandatum) was no longer limited to men, following instructions from Pope Francis who had included women since the beginning of his papacy.[a] However, in March Sarah said that there was no obligation to include women in the ceremony.
On 27 May 2015 (the memorial of Saint Augustine of Canterbury), while Cardinal Sarah was serving as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Divine Worship: The Missal, "a legitimate adaptation of the Roman Rite, drawn up in the English Language," a new form of the Catholic Mass using the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer, was promulgated over his signature.
This section needs expansion with: importance of silence in liturgy. You can help by adding to it. (August 2017)
Late in May 2016, Cardinal Sarah told an interviewer that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass versus populum, that is, facing the congregation. This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was "a possibility, but not an obligation". Readers and listeners should face each other during the Liturgy of the Word, he said. "But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted." Cardinal Sarah rejected the argument that priests celebrating Mass facing the apse, or ad orientem, are turning their backs on the faithful or "against them".
Speaking at a London conference on 5 July 2016, Cardinal Sarah asked all bishops and priests to begin celebrating the Mass ad orientem "wherever possible", "perhaps" by 27 November 2016, the start of Advent. He encouraged all Roman rite Catholics to receive Communion kneeling and said that Pope Francis had asked him to "continue the liturgical work Pope Benedict began". Sarah then met privately with Pope Francis and on 11 July the Holy See Press Office issued a statement that said that Sarah's London remarks had been "incorrectly interpreted, as if they were intended to announce new indications different to those given so far in the liturgical rules and in the words of the Pope regarding celebration facing the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass", that celebrating Mass facing the congregation (versus populum) was "desirable wherever possible" and not to be superseded by ad orientem. It reported that the Pope and the Cardinal were in complete agreement on these points.
This section needs expansion with: reactions to this July 2017 proposal. You can help by adding to it. (August 2017)
He once wrote: "I refuse to waste our time pitting one liturgy against another or the rite of Saint Pius V against that of Blessed Paul VI." In July 2017, Sarah proposed that the two forms of the Mass, the former or extraordinary form and the post-Vatican II or ordinary form, could benefit from "liturgical reconciliation" or "a mutual enrichment of the rites", recognizing that the two forms of liturgy did do not represent "two opposing theologies". He wrote that the phrase "reform of the reform" had become associated with the victory of one form over the other and therefore "inappropriate". His many specific suggestions included that the two forms could share one calendar of feasts and schedule of readings; that the new form could restore the prayers at the foot of the altar that open the traditional Mass, require the faithful to kneel to receive communion on the tongue, and add periods of silence; and that the celebration of the traditional form ensure that the Latin readings are understood by the congregation.
Cardinal Sarah use of the "reform of the reform" has been criticised by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, who promoted avoiding such an expression. On a related note, on 24 Augusti 2017, Pope Francis insisted that the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council were "irreversible". Some perceived this has having part of a declaration invoked in his "magisterial authority".
In September 2017, Pope Francis transferred primary responsibility "to faithfully prepare … approve and publish" translations of liturgical books into vernacular languages from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to conferences of bishops, ordering the congregation to "help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task." An explanatory note, attributed to Cardinal Sarah, soon appeared, specifying that the congregation's approval would not be a mere formality but would involve a detailed review that could lead to binding rejections of unsatisfactory translations. On October 22, 2017, the Holy See released a letter that Pope Francis had sent to Cardinal Sarah, clarifying that the Holy See and its departments would have only limited authority to confirm liturgical translations recognized by a local episcopal conference,
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2017)
Sarah grew up and began studying for the priesthood in countries with Islamic majorities. He was impressed by the depth of Islamic religious observance in Guinea and has praised relations between Christians and Muslims there – "the Islam in my country is a fraternal, peaceful religion" – and in West Africa generally. He has condemned military intervention by Western powers in Iraq and Syria, which has resulted in the near extermination of Christian communities: "I say emphatically that some Western powers will have perpetrated, directly or symbolically, a crime against humanity." He believes that there is little possibility of theological dialogue between Christians and Muslims given their essential differences (the Trinity, the Resurrection, the Eucharist), but anticipates collaboration at the national or international level on resistance to abortion, euthanasia, and "the new gender ideology".
Sarah has criticized the "pseudo-family of ideologized Islam which legitimizes polygamy, female subservience, sexual slavery, child marriage."
Opposition to LGBT Rights
Sarah has opposed various attempts to provide legal recognition to gays and lesbians, often casting his remarks in terms of a defense of traditional Catholic and African values against contemporary secular Western culture. On 28 January 2012, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, called on African nations to repeal laws that place sanctions on homosexual conduct. Sarah called the speech "stupid". When a journalist asked if Ban Ki-moon was "overstepping his responsibilities", Sarah replied: "Sure, you cannot impose something stupid like that. Poor countries like Africa just accept it because it's imposed upon them through money, through being tied to aid." He said that, "It's not possible to impose on the poor this kind of European mentality," and added that African bishops must react to this move against African culture.
In an interview in September 2015, Sarah described same-sex unions as "retrogressive for culture and civilisation" and a problem for all of humanity. He said that despite the fact that such unions were increasingly recognized in Europe, they were not approved of in Africa. He blamed "Western ideological colonialism" for promoting the idea of gay marriage, which he warned would "destroy Catholic doctrine". According to the Daily Telegraph, Sarah's "outspoken remarks underlined deep rifts within the Church over the Pope's softer, more compassionate attitude towards homosexuality".
Addressing the U.S. National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on 17 May 2016, Sarah said that "God is being eroded, eclipsed, [and] liquidated" in the United States because of legal changes being adopted "in the name of 'tolerance'". He cited "the legalization of same-sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programs, and even 'bathroom bills' that allow men to use the women's restrooms and locker rooms." He asked: "Should not a biological man use the men's restroom?"
Synod of Bishops
Following the first session of the Synod on the Family in October 2014, Sarah objected to press coverage of the synod's discussion: "what has been published by the media about homosexual unions is an attempt to push the Church [to change] her doctrine". He said the synod's interim report or relatio appropriately objected to international agencies and governments that condition foreign aid on "the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology", but needed to underscore objections to same-sex marriage. He suggested that advocacy on behalf of same-sex unions formed "part of a new ideology of evil".
This section needs expansion with: criticism of synod procedures to favor certain opinions. You can help by adding to it. (August 2017)
In October 2015, he played a leading role in the Synod on the Family's rejection of attempts to ensure more welcoming language toward people who are gay or divorced and remarried. Addressing the Synod on perceived threats to marriage and the family, he advocated the need to be "inclusive and welcoming to all that is human" but warned: "What comes from the Enemy cannot and must not be assimilated. You cannot join Christ and Belial!" He said that "Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism" could be seen as "almost like two apocalyptic beasts" with demonic origins, drew parallels between them and Nazism and Communism, and noted that terrorist attacks in France and Tunisia had taken place on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that made same-sex civil marriage legal nationwide.
Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp, complained that Sarah tried to silence any discussion of the pastoral care of gay Catholics in the discussion group he led at the Synod: "There was no way of discussing it in a peaceful way." Bonny said the Belgian participants found that the growing influence of the Africans prevented the pastorals solutions they favored from getting a hearing. When Krzysztof Charamsa, a theologian who lost his position at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he revealed that he was in a homosexual relationship on the eve of the Synod,[b] assessed the Synod's work, he singled out Sarah's language to challenge all the participants: "No one publicly said a word against those defamatory sentences. What kind of respect does that show to us all?"
On 6 January 2011, Sarah was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. On 10 March 2015, Pope Francis appointed Sarah to serve as a member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
Cardinal Sarah is a member of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute.
- Sarah, Robert; Diat, Nicolas (15 April 2017). The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Paperback ed.). Ignatius Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-1621641919.
- Sarah, Robert; Diat, Nicolas (5 October 2016). La force du silence (in French). Fayard.
- Sarah, Robert; Diat, Nicolas (1 September 2015). God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith (Sew ed.). Ignatius Press. ISBN 978-1621640509.
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion (2016)
- Benin: Knight Grand Cross in the National Order of Benin (2015)
- France: Commander of the Legion of Honour (2012)
- Pope Francis ordered the change in a letter to Sarah 13 months earlier on 20 December 2014, which mentioned they had discussed the change previously. Francis washed the feet of two women at his first Maundy Thursday liturgy as pope on 28 March 2013.
- Charamsa was also immediately removed from his position at the International Theological Commission and from two teaching posts at pontifical universities. He was suspended from the priesthood on 21 October.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Pentin, Edward (12 October 2015). "Cardinal Sarah: ISIS and Gender Ideology Are Like 'Apocalyptic Beasts'". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Gettleman, Jeffrey; Goodstein, Laurie (25 November 2015). "A More Conservative Catholic Church Awaits Pope Francis in Africa". New York Times.
- Frymann Rouch, Abigail (24 November 2014). "Robert Sarah to lead Congregation for Worship". The Tablet.
- Sarah, Robert (2015). God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. pp. 17–8, 31–4, 40, 44. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
- McElwee, Joshua J (24 November 2014). "Francis appoints Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah to lead Vatican liturgical congregation". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Concistoro Ordinario Pubblico del 20 Novembre 2010, Assegnazione dei Titoli e delle Daiconie ai Nuovi Cardinali" (in Italian). 20 November 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
- "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
- Le Bars, Stéphanie (12 March 2013). "Portraits de "papabili"". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Allen Jr., John L. (1 March 2013). "Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "The unstoppable rise of Cardinal Sarah". Catholic Herald. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Sarah, Robert (2015). God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 73. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Allen Jr., John L. (7 October 2010). "In two key appointments, Benedict opts for insiders". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- "Card Sarah named Prefect for Congregation for Divine Worship". News.va. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Pope Francis opens Holy Thursday foot-washing rite to women". Catholic Herald. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "Lettera del Santo Padre Francesco al Prefetto della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti sul Rito Della "Lavanda dei Piedi" nella Liturgia della Messa in Coena Domini". The Holy See (in Italian). Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Riti. Lavanda dei piedi: potranno essere scelte anche le donne". Avvenire (in Italian). 21 January 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Glatz, Carol (28 March 2013). "Pope washes young offenders' feet at Holy Thursday Mass". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Montagna, Diane (15 March 2016). "Cardinal Sarah: Priests Don't Have to Wash Women's Feet on Holy Thursday". Aleteia. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Divine Worship: The Missal, p.5
- Pourbaix, Aymeric (23 May 2016). "Cardinal Sarah: comment remettre Dieu au cœur de la liturgie". Famille Chrétienne (in French). Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- "Vatican liturgy chief urges priests to celebrate Mass facing east". Catholic Herald. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Sarah, Robert (12 July 2016). "Full text: Cardinal Sarah at Sacra Liturgia conference". The Catholic Herald.
- Westen, John-Henry (5 July 2016). "Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion". Life Site News.
And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people. Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year… may be a very good time to do this.
- Hitchens, Dan (5 July 2016). "Cardinal Sarah asks priests to start celebrating Mass facing east this Advent". The Catholic Herald.
- "Holy See Press Office Communiqué: Some clarifications on the celebration of Mass" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
All the above was unanimously expressed during a recent audience granted by the Pope to the same Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
- San Martín, Inés (11 July 2016). "Vatican squelches rumors of new rules on Mass facing east". Crux.
- Dulle, Colleen (12 July 2016). "Vatican says no changes foreseen in direction priests face during Mass". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Sarah, Robert (2016). The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- Lamb, Christopher (13 July 2017). "Cardinal Sarah wants 'liturgical reconciliation' between old and new forms of Mass". The Tablet. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Schiffer, Kathy (22 July 2017). "Could Cardinal Sarah Bring an End to the Liturgy Wars?". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Sarah, Robert (July–August 2017). "Pour une réconciliation liturgique" [For a liturgical reconciliation]. La Nef (in French) (Number 294). Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Francis, Magnum Principium (Motu Proprio), Vatican City: Holy See Press Office
- Sarah, Robert (2015). God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. pp. 137–9. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "Cardinal responds to UN's criticism of Africa's Social Policies". National Catholic Register. 21 February 2013.
- Rodari, Paolo (20 September 2015). "Robert Sarah: 'L'ostia ai divorzati tradisce il Vangelo, la Chiesa non può ribellarsi a Dio'". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- Agnew, Paddy (30 September 2015). "'Homosexual unions' a problem for humanity, says cardinal". Irish Times. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Squires, Nick (3 October 2015). "Francis: the modest but radical Pope who is conscience of his era". Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Dicker, Rachel (18 May 2016). "'God is Being Eroded, Eclipsed, Liquidated' in the United States, Cardinal Says". US News & World Report. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
- "African cardinal: Pressure groups behind push to change Church teaching". Catholic News Agency. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- "Catholic bishops at Vatican summit seek elusive common ground". Religion News Service. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Cardinal Sarah urges Synod to reject liberal agenda pushed by organizers in blistering speech, interview". Lifesitenews.com. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Cardinal Sarah says the Christian family counters both Islamic, Western extremism". Catholic News Agency. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Synod Interventions . . . Concerns About Threats To The Families, Hopes For True Renewal". The Wanderer Newspaper. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Cardinal Sarah: efforts to 'soften' Christ's teaching ignore the Good News of mercy". Catholic News Agency. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Cardinal Sarah blocked discussion of gays, says bishop". The Tablet. 24 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- O'Connell, Gerard (3 October 2015). "Vatican theologian declares he's gay and has a partner". America. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- "Ksiądz Krzysztof Charamsa zawieszony w czynnościach kapłańskich" [Father Krzysztof Charamsa suspended from priestly activity]. Onet (in Polish). 21 October 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- Faiola, Anthony (11 November 2015). "Not all gay Catholics are pleased about how Vatican priest came out of the closet". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
Technically, Charamsa said, he remains ordained. In a statement, his bishop left the door open for Charamsa's return to the practicing priesthood should he repent.
- Pianigiani, Gaia (28 October 2015). "Gay Priest Who Lost Vatican Job Assails the Church in Letter to Pope Francis". New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- "Appointments Given in Vatican Dicasteries". Zenit. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- "Rinunce e nomine" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 10 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
- "Cardinal Sarah admitted to Order of Malta with the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion" (Press release). 20 June 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
- "Bénin: A Dassa-Zoumè, le Cardinal Sarah reçoit le titre de Grand-Croix". Vatican Riadio (in French). 28 August 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Robert Sarah|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Sarah.|
- "Sarah Card. Robert". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- Official website of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- "The unstoppable rise of Cardinal Sarah", Catholic Herald
- Full text of remarks to the Synod of Bishops, 14 October 2015
|Catholic Church titles|
Raymond-Maria Tchidimbo CSSp
| Archbishop of Conakry
13 August 1979 – 1 October 2001
Marcello Zago OMI
| Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
1 October 2001 – 7 October 2010
Savio Hon Tai-Fai SDB
| President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum
7 October 2010 – 23 November 2014
Antonio Cañizares Llovera
| Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
23 November 2014 – present