06 April 2017, The Tablet

View from Rome

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Days after Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah as the new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I received a reply to an email I had sent to a Jesuit from Ivory Coast who knew the cardinal. The Guinean prelate, my source explained, belonged to the West African tradition of being hospitable to the idea of “inculturation”, the incorporation into the Church’s liturgy of elements of local cultures.

Three years on and it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In a message delivered to a liturgical conference last week, the cardinal denounces “the fantasies, ideologies and cultural expressions” introduced into the post-conciliar liturgy. It is one of the strongest attacks on the direction taken by the Church since Vatican II that I can recall being made by a serving cardinal. He argues that since the Council more and more leaders in the Church have “abandoned her Christian roots”.

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