Pope appoints new secretary for Vatican's Divine Worship congregation

By David Kerr

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Bishop Arthur Roche greets Pope Benedict XVI during his 2010 visit to the UK: Credit Mazur.

Pope Benedict has appointed Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds in England as new Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

“I have to confess that I was very surprised and shocked by the news of this appointment,” said 62-year-old Bishop Roche in a statement June 26.

“I am, however, aware and deeply humbled by the confidence Pope Benedict XVI shows in me in entrusting me with this responsibility. I shall do my best to fulfill the task that lies ahead.”

The Congregation for Divine Worship promotes liturgical pastoral activity, especially regarding the celebration of the Eucharist. The current prefect is Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera.

Bishop Roche will replace secretary Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who was recently appointed by the Pope as Vice President of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei.' Archbishop Di Noia is now slated to be a key player in the negotiations between the Vatican and the breakaway traditionalist group, the Society of St. Pius X.

Between 2003 and 2012, Bishop Roche was chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. During that time the commission oversaw the new English translation of the Roman Missal which is now being used throughout the Anglophone world. 

Bishop Roche’s appointment is only one of raft of changes announced among the personnel of the Roman Curia June 26. Four new appointments have been precipitated by a string of recent retirements due to age. Generally, Vatican officials demit office upon turning 75. 

Archbishop Jean Louis Brugučs O.P. will become the new Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church. The 69-year-old Frenchman currently serves as Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He replaces the 78-year-old Italian Cardinal Raffaele Farina who retired as Vatican Librarian earlier this month. 

The new President of the Pontifical Council for the Family will be Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia in central Italy. The 67-year-old is one of the founders of the Rome based Sant’Egidio community which seeks to promote prayer, service to the poor, peace and reconciliation and ecumenical dialogue.

He replaces 75-year-old Cardinal Ennio Antonelli who also retired this month. Bishop Protase Rugambwa of Kigoma in Tanzania is the new Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The 52-year-old succeeds Italian Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli.

Finally, Monsignor Krzysztof Józef Nykiel has been appointed as Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican body responsible for issues related to the forgiveness of sins. The 47-year-old Pole is currently an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He succeeds Italian Bishop Gianfranco Girotti.

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