Bishop Arthur Roche takes over as head of the Congregation for Divine Worship



The appointment was expected for several weeks, it was made public Thursday, May 27. The pope has chosen Bishop Arthur Roche, 71, as the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The English Archbishop, who was head of the Diocese of Leeds (2004-2012), England for eight years, was since 2012 the secretary of this Roman dicastery.

→ READ. What becomes of Cardinal Robert Sarah?

He is therefore a man who is familiar with the very sensitive files of this dicastery, which succeeds Cardinal Robert Sarah, previous prefect in charge of divine worship. At the top of the pile of files on Bishop Roche’s desk: the development of a “Rite of institution” of the brand new lay ministry of catechist instituted on May 11 by the Pope. A publication that will have to take place “As soon as possible”, insists François in his motu proprio.

Mass translation

Ordained a priest in 1975, Bishop Roche was, from 1996 to 2001, Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In the early 2000s, he also chaired the International Commission for English in the Liturgy. It was there that he supervised in particular the translation of the Mass.

This appointment comes after the Pope has ordered a very unusual apostolic visit to the dicastery in recent weeks. On March 15, Francis had in fact asked Bishop Claudio Maniago de Castellaneta, the president of the liturgical commission of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, to hear all the members of the dicastery in order to establish an assessment of its mode of operation and make recommendations. A report that the Pope waited for before proceeding with the appointment of Cardinal Sarah’s successor. To replace Bishop Roche in the post of number two of the dicastery, Francis appoints the Italian Franciscan Vittorio Francesco Viola, until then Bishop of Tortona.

Sensitive post

In addition to the question of the new lay ministries desired by the Pope, both will be in charge of liturgical questions which have always been particularly sensitive in the Catholic Church. It was in particular on this dicastery that the adaptations of the way of celebrating Mass have been based in recent months to the constraints imposed by the pandemic.

Another delicate issue, inherited by the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the application of the decree Summorum pontificum, liberalizing the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. Based on information from The cross, this motu proprio should soon, 14 years after its publication by Benedict XVI, be at the center of a note signed by Pope Francis. He could provide very important details on the application of this extraordinary form to which traditionalist circles are particularly attentive.

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