Visitation at Vatican’s liturgy office before Cardinal Sarah’s successor announced

Pope Francis addresses participants at the plenary assembly of the CDW in the auletta of the Vaticans Paul VI Hall Feb 14 2019 Credit Vatican Media CNA Pope Francis addresses participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship in the auletta of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Feb. 14, 2019. | Vatican Media.

An Italian bishop is carrying out a visitation at the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments less than a month after Cardinal Robert Sarah resigned as prefect.

According to media reports, Bishop Claudio Maniago of Castellaneta, president of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops' conference, began a visitation to the Vatican’s liturgy office March 15.

Maniago is also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship, appointed in 2016.

Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Sarah’s resignation as prefect of the Divine Worship congregation Feb. 20. His successor to lead the office has not yet been named.

Information about Maniago’s visitation has not been made public, but Italian newspaper La Stampa wrote March 16 that it had confirmed it was taking place and seen an internal email of the congregation announcing the visitation.

According to La Stampa, the March 12 email, from Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said: “The Holy Father has decided, before making appointments to the Congregation, that there should be a visit to the Dicastery by one of his representatives.”

The email reportedly further said that Maniago would be learning about the congregation's work and meeting with officials one-by-one.

“I have already expressed to the Holy Father our openness to this visit and our sure and sincere welcome to Msgr. Maniago,” Roche reportedly wrote. “There is nothing to be alarmed about in this. As you know, this style of visit is now becoming a regular occurrence at the end of the mandate of the heads of the Dicastery or at the time of a significant change.”

La Stampa reported that internal consultations of the sort described in Roche’s email did not take place, however, in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples or the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which both received new prefects in recent years.

Since Sarah’s resignation was accepted in February, the question has been who might be chosen to replace the Guinean cardinal at the head of the liturgy congregation.

CNA reported last month that Pope Francis could be looking at three possible candidates, one of which is Maniago, the bishop carrying out this month’s visitation.

In his role at the Italian bishops’ conference, Maniago, 62, oversaw the new Italian translation of the Roman Missal.

Another possible option for prefect is Roche, currently the congregation's number two.

Before being appointed to his Vatican position, Roche, 70, served as president of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

During the last eight years, the English archbishop has been a go-between for Pope Francis and Cardinal Sarah on liturgical issues.

Bishop Vittorio Viola of Tortona, Italy, is a third possible candidate. The 55-year-old is a member of the Order of Friars Minor.

His first appointment as a bishop, in 2014, was at the hands of Pope Francis, who took him from a position as president of the Assisi-based branch of Caritas.

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Viola was also formerly the Custodian of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi, and got to know the pope during his 2013 visit to the city, when they sat next to each other during a lunch with the poor.

Viola is also a good friend of Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi, who was secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship from 2003 to 2005.

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