Christmas Campaign: Financial Insights
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In tapping new liturgy chief, Pope Francis reaches across the aisle

by John L. Allen Jr.

ROME — Just when you think you have Pope Francis figured out, he surprises you. In that spirit, Monday’s appointment of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as the new head of the Vatican’s department for liturgical policy will certainly surprise some.

Sarah becomes the second African to have the Vatican’s top liturgical post, after Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze from 2002 to 2008.

When he recently removed US Cardinal Raymond Burke from a senior Vatican job, many observers concluded that Francis simply didn’t want such a strong conservative on his team. Yet he’s now handed over the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to an equally strong conservative in the 69-year-old Sarah, who since 2010 has led a Vatican office called Cor Unum that oversees Catholic charities.

Sarah was part of the conservative opposition at the recent Synod of Bishops on the family to an interim report that contained daringly positive language on same-sex unions and other relationships that fall outside the bounds of Catholic teaching on marriage.

A former Archbishop of Conakry in Guinea, Sarah was also part of the African contingent at the synod that objected when no prelate from the continent was named to the drafting committee for the final document, leading Francis to add Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa to the body.

In other words, this isn’t exactly the profile that perceptions of Francis as a “liberal pope” would lead one to expect in his choices for key jobs.

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UNWORTHY
Have your enemies closer... Pell got that, Burke didn't...
Dr Bobus
His Christian name is replaced, his surname is not. Pius XII used to answer the phone: E Pacelli qui.

BTW, I'm not much for fraternal correction.
Dr Bobus
1. An appreciated but curious appointment, following his removal of Bux et al from the SCDW.

2. The question is whether he was just trying to appease the other side, or whether after the Synod he is no longer taking the advice of certain people.

3. This pope has let others paint him into a corner twice. First, when Burke was removed from the Cong of Bishops (see: Wuerl and O'Malley). Second, …More
1. An appreciated but curious appointment, following his removal of Bux et al from the SCDW.

2. The question is whether he was just trying to appease the other side, or whether after the Synod he is no longer taking the advice of certain people.

3. This pope has let others paint him into a corner twice. First, when Burke was removed from the Cong of Bishops (see: Wuerl and O'Malley). Second, with Kasper, Forte, and the other liberal ideologues who were in charge of the Synod.

4. Papa Bergoglio came into the papacy with no Roman experience and apparently never having given any thought what the next pope should do. He has been in OJT, depending mainly on the advice of others. He also seems mainly to have moved his Buenos Aires MO to the Vatican.

5. The next 18 months will be very interesting.