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Cardinal Robert Sarah and Pope FrancisTwitter

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis said that appointing Cardinal Robert Sarah to the Congregation for Divine Worship may have been “a mistake.”

In a book-length interview titled The Successor, which is set to be published in Spanish on April 3, Francis addressed his relationship with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. During his interview with Spanish journalist Javier Martínez-Brocal, Francis said, “Maybe I made a mistake in naming (Cardinal Sarah) prefect of the now-Dicastery for Divine Worship.”

“From there he was manipulated by separatist groups, but he is a good man,” the pontiff continued.

“At times I have the impression that working in the Roman Curia made him a little bitter,” Francis said about Cardinal Sarah.

The African cardinal is known for his fidelity to Church teaching and Tradition. However, he rarely criticized Francis during his stint as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) from 2014 to 2021. Recently, though, Cardinal Sarah strongly condemned the idea of homosexual “blessings” put forth in the heterodox Vatican declaration Fiducia Supplicans, stating that the document proposes a “heresy that gravely undermines the Church, the Body of Christ, because it is contrary to the Catholic faith and tradition.” He said he was “very proud” of the African bishops for rejecting Fiducia Supplicans.

READ: Cardinal Sarah strongly rejects Fiducia Supplicans, ‘heresy’ of same-sex ‘blessings’

Francis commented on Cardinal Sarah in the context of talking about the 2020 book From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church. The book defending priestly celibacy, co-authored by Cardinal Sarah and Pope Benedict XVI, was widely received as criticism of Francis and a rare interjection of the retired pontiff. The book was published ahead of the highly anticipated post-apostolic exhortation on the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, where the possible ordination of married men (so-called “viri probati”) was discussed.

There was confusion regarding the co-authorship of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and his name was removed from later versions of the book as Benedict apparently did not want to be named as an author publicly, even though the original manuscript of the Italian version of the book showed that both Cardinal Sarah and the pope emeritus had signed the introduction and the conclusion.

At the time of the book’s publication in January 2020, Vatican insider Antonio Socci claimed that Pope Francis was “furious” over Benedict’s contribution to the book on celibacy, demanding he retract his name from the work. However, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s private secretary, denied these claims.

It was widely speculated that Francis thought that Gänswein was responsible for the alleged misunderstanding that led to the pope emeritus being named as co-author of the book, which allegedly may have prompted the reigning pontiff to remove Gänswein from his position as prefect of the papal household.

In the interview book The Successor, Francis slammed Gänswein over the publication of his book Nothing but the Truth shortly after Pope Benedict’s death, saying Gänswein lacked “nobility and humanity.”

Francis claimed that Benedict XVI’s former private secretary “did some very difficult things to me.”

READ: Pope Francis slams Archbishop Gänswein for ‘lack of nobility and humanity’ over Benedict XVI book