Pope Francis Hints at Imminent Changes in the Roman Curia

During the 74th general assembly today, Pope Francis gave some preview about his upcoming decisions, explicitly mentioning the appointment of the new prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments.

December 21, 2019: Pope Francis received in audience the Cardinals and the Superiors of the Roman Curia for Christmas greetings, Dec. 21, 2019.
December 21, 2019: Pope Francis received in audience the Cardinals and the Superiors of the Roman Curia for Christmas greetings, Dec. 21, 2019. (photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA. / Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Multiple sources have told CNA that Pope Francis told the Italian bishops that there will soon be a new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and that the appointment might come out as early as May 25.

Pope Francis met the Italian bishops as they are gathering in their 74th general assembly. Pope Francis delivered an opening address to the assembly and later held an open discussion with the bishops.

It was during this close-door session that the pope gave some preview about his upcoming decisions, and explicitly mentioned the appointment of the new prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments.

The position has been vacant since the pope accepted the retirement of Robert Cardinal Sarah Feb. 20.

The candidates to replace Cardinal Sarah continue to be the same three that have been mentioned since the African cardinal's retirement.

The first might be Bishop Claudio Maniago of Castellaneta, who oversaw the Italian Bishops Conference's new translation of the Missal and is the current president of their liturgical commission. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Maniago as inspector of the congregation. The inspection began shortly before Easter and was not made official. Sources in the congregation said that the inspection did not last long and mainly dealt with organizational issues.

Another candidate is Bishop Vittorio Francesco Viola, OFM, of Tortona. Formerly president of the Caritas of Assisi, Bishop Viola caught Pope Francis‘ attention during the pope’s trip to Assisi in 2013.

Finally, the third name in the shortlist is Archbishop Arthur Roche, a Briton who has been secretary of the congregation since 2012.

A bishop present at the meeting told CNA that “all the clues in Pope's words said that Archbishop Roche would be the new perfect.”

Other rumors say that the new secretary will be Fr. Corrado Maggioni, currently the under-secretary. Fr. Maggioni has served in the Congregation for the Divine Worship since 1990.

But as hours went by on Monday, another scenario became increasingly likely: Pope Francis will appoint Archbishop Roche as prefect and name Bishop Viola secretary of the congregation. 

In this scenario, Pope Francis would complete the transition with a new undersecretary: Msgr. Pietro Moroni, dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urbanian University.

Msgr. Moroni, 46, and Pope Francis appointed him consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff Oct. 7. Considered traditional in terms of liturgy, Msgr. Moroni might also be regarded as the first step for a future, definitive transfer of the Office for the Pope‘s Liturgical Celebrations under the Congregation for the Divine Worship’s umbrella.

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]