Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Sarah, who turned 75 in June 2020, was the most senior African prelate at the Vatican, appointed head of the liturgy department by Pope Francis in November 2014.
He had previously served as the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Guinean cardinal has written a trilogy of books read widely throughout the Catholic world: “God or Nothing” (2015), “The Power of Silence” (2016), and “The Day Is Now Far Spent” (2019).
Sarah said in a Tweet Feb. 20 that Pope Francis had accepted his resignation after his 75th birthday.
“I am in the hands of God. The only rock is Christ. We will meet very soon in Rome and elsewhere,” he wrote on Twitter.
Known as a vocal proponent of more traditional styles of Catholic liturgy, Sarah came under scrutiny earlier in Francis’ papacy when it became apparent the cardinal had waited years to implement a papal instruction to change church law to allow for women to be among those who have their feet washed at Holy Thursday services.
Although Francis sent a letter to Sarah in December 2014 asking him to implement the change, it was not announced until January 2016. There has never been an explanation for the lag time.
Francis also took the unusual step in 2017 of issuing a public correction to an article written by Sarah about how Catholic liturgies are to be translated from the original Latin into local languages.