Featured Image
Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship offers Mass at London's 'Sacra Liturgia' conference on July 6, 2016.Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr

ROME, November 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Is Cardinal Robert Sarah slowly being silenced? An indication of such a development surfaced with the cardinal’s withdrawal from participating in a congress in Germany.

After the recent overhaul of the Vatican liturgy office, which Cardinal Sarah heads, he is now backing out of public appearances.

In a press release by the Kölner international Liturgische Tagung (International Liturgical Conference of Cologne), Father Guido Rodheudt, conference organizer, explained that Cardinal Sarah “regrettably had to cancel his participation in the 18th Liturgical conference” in 2017.

This news came as a surprise since the Cardinal had three times confirmed his participation, including in writing, since November 2015, said Rodheudt. Cardinal Sarah cancelled not only his participation in-person, but will also not submit his written paper to be read by a representative — a practice common for cardinals in cases of emergency absence.

In an interview with the German news agency, Fr. Rodheudt explained: “Cardinal Sarah has told us that for the coming year a number of obligations came up, which force him to cancel his participation even after repeated confirmation.”

“The meaning of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum for the Renewal of the Liturgy in the Latin Church” was to be his topic, said Rodheudt.

Fr. Rodheudt interprets the recent overhaul of Sarah’s congregation and the cancellation of his upcoming public appearances as a direct result of Sarah’s attempt to reform the liturgical praxis and the post-conciliar abuses that have pervaded the liturgical praxis of countless parishes all over the world.

“With his summation in London, Cardinal Sarah has revealed cracks and breaks of the liturgy. The liturgical praxis after the council has widespread lost the sense for the sacred and the worship of the invisibly present God more and more. […] That is why he has met resistance.”

At the same time, Rodheudt is skeptical about the direct involvement of Pope Francis: “We are not aware of an instruction by the Holy Father to Cardinal Sarah to cancel his participation. What can be said is that Pope Francis does not seem to have a special interest in liturgical questions.”

While Cardinal Sarah seems to have perfectly continued the Benedictine idea of the “reform of the reform” of the liturgy, “it does not seem that Pope Francis sees much value in putting these kinds of questions into a public discussion. That is why he has asked Cardinal Sarah not to follow up on this thought [of the “reform of the reform”] in his function as prefect for the Congregation for Liturgy and also not to use the term “reform of the reform” anymore.

Francis has, therefore, officially stigmatized a “theological concept” of his predecessor. “One could get the idea that the reform of the reform is not really wanted.”

The letter Sarah wrote to the organizers of the congress closed with the words: “I regret that I must cancel my participation on March 31 as well as the homily during Mass the following day in the abbey Church of Rolduc. I wish nevertheless that this spectacular liturgical congress might be a success and I ensure you and the participants of my prayers that will accompany you in your endeavor in these so important topics.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland will participate in the liturgical conference. At this point in time, the organizers seek to replace Cardinal Sarah with another high-ranking Church official.