March 2, 2021


This week, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea. Sarah was the head of the Vatican’s liturgy department. This resignation is no surprise because Sarah’s conservative thoughts have not seemed to align with Pope Francis’ current vision for the church. In turn, leading to the Cardinal’s foreseeable resignation.

Pope Francis’ Vision

The Catholic Church tends to include a more conservative group of people. Traditionally, Catholics have sided against abortion which is a conservative belief. There are liberal-minded members of the Catholic Church, but the church’s direction has always been traditional.

In Pope Francis’ tenure, he has been attacked by Catholic Church conservatives for his beliefs on theology, climate change, and a whole other slew of issues.

The Catholic Church has 1.3 billion members, but a small group has criticized the pope and called for his resignation. Pope Francis has laughed at these comments. While Pope Francis still holds conservative values, he is changing the church’s mindset and implementing a modern thought process.

Hardcore conservative values do not always align with Pope Francis’ beliefs. This caused Cardinal Robert Sarah to resign from his position in the Vatican.

History of Cardinal Sarah’s Leadership Position

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Sarah in 2014 as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Cardinal Sarah’s traditional interpretation of the liturgy did not align with Pope Francis’ mindset.

The two shared different views on contentious issues like homosexuality, abortion, and the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Islamic faith. Last year, Cardinal Sarah published a book where he defended the necessity for celibacy in the priesthood. This is a touchy issue where many people have differing stances. At this point, it was clear that these two would not be able to work together successfully.

Cardinal Robert Sarah Resigns

On Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis had accepted Cardinal Sarah’s resignation from his position as the Vatican’s liturgy department head. It’s very rare to see someone in a leadership position resign because of the job’s elite status.

The religious officials who work in the Vatican are the highest positions in the Catholic faith. Cardinal Sarah was seen as an adversary of Pope Francis’ beliefs. Instead of opposing Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah chose to step down from his leadership position.

The Vatican did not provide any detail of why Cardinal Robert Sarah resigned. However, he submitted his resignation in June of 2020 at the age of 75. Cardinals do not have to leave at the time that they offer their resignation paperwork. They are allowed to continue working for a few more years if they wish to fulfill their duties.

Sarah tweeted, “I am in God’s hands. The only rock is Christ. We will meet again very soon in Rome and elsewhere,” in French following Pope Francis’ approval of his resignation. Cardinal Sarah attested that he is retiring because of old age, but people around the Vatican believe that he stepped down because of his conservative principles.

Cardinal Sarah was viewed as a future Pontiff by many people in the Catholic faith. His conservative principles and traditional nature appealed to a lot of members of the church.

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