Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Chiesa: The Congregation with the Revolving Door

Yesterday, the following article was published on Chiesa concerning the recent appointment of Bishop Arthur Roche as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Here is an excerpt:

The congregation with the revolving door

It is the one for divine worship, with jurisdiction over the liturgy. All of its most recent secretaries have been replaced early. And they have almost never been in agreement with their prefect and with the pope. On the new arrival, the Englishman Roche, the betting is open

by ***

VATICAN CITY, July 3, 2012 – Last week came the announcement of the appointment of a new secretary of the congregation for divine worship. It is the English bishop Arthur Roche.

He replaces Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who told Catholic News Service, the online agency of the episcopal conference of his country, the United States, that he was "flabbergasted" that he had to leave the position after only three years.

In effect, in the six years of Benedict XVI's pontificate, Di Noia is the third churchman to have left the position of second in command of this Vatican dicastery before the end of the five-year canonical mandate. An anomalous record. All the more so in that the dicastery in question is the one that has specific competencies over the liturgy, a question that is extremely close to the heart of Benedict XVI.


From 1996 until today, the congregation for divine worship has changed prefects three times. That year, in fact, for the leadership of the dicastery John Paul II called the Chilean bishop Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, who, created cardinal in 1998, remained in his position until October 1, 2002, when he was replaced by African Cardinal Francis Arinze, who remained there until December 9, 2008, when Benedict XVI called the current prefect to replace him, Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera.

These were standard replacements, taking place when the prefects in question had passed the canonical age limit of 75, Medina by eight months and Arinze by thirteen months.

These changes took place without big shakeups in management style. All three prefects, in fact, were proponents of a correction of course with respect to the liturgical abuses seen with the liturgical reform following Vatican Council II, although in different ways. The most aggressive was Medina, who in 2001 was solidly behind the instruction "Liturgiam Autenthicam" for a more faithful translation from the Latin, and in 2002 brought to completion a third Latin "edition typica" of the Roman Missal and instituted at the congregation the committee "Vox Clara" for liturgical translations in English, as a Vatican counterweight to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, an umbrella group of three Anglophone episcopal conferences – hegemonized by the progressives – that until then had held the monopoly. Arinze was more easygoing. Tough in word but mild in action – at least until now – is Cañizares.


But the succession of the secretaries of this congregation has been different, much more tormented and debated. It must be kept in mind that in a dicastery, if it is the prefect who gives the directives, it is the secretary who has the power to put them into practice.

Read the rest of the article.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: