Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, a prominent conservative who is head of the Vatican's liturgy department. A staunch conservative, Cardinal Sarah was a vocal opponent to many aspects of the Pope's future vision for the Catholic Church. The Holy See Press Office announced that Cardinal Sarah had stepped down from his position, but did not give a reason why.
Shortly after his resignation was announced, Cardinal Sarah wrote on Twitter: "I am in God's hands. The only rock is Christ. We will meet again very soon in Rome and elsewhere."
He followed up with another tweet on Febrruary 21, saying: "I thank you with emotion for the thousands of messages that reached me yesterday from all over the world. Now this is my Lenten retreat. I invite you to pray in the great silence of God. Let us be faithful to Christ, following him on the way of the Cross."
Sarah had been seen within the Catholic Church as a possible future pontiff.
Last year, he caused a stir after co-writing a book that defended the "necessity" of celibacy in the priesthood. The co-author of the book was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who later asked to be removed from the title.
Prior to Pope Francis naming Cardinal Sarah's replacement, the department will be led by English prelate Archbishop Arthur Roche. The pope has also accepted the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and the vicar general for the Vatican City State. He will be replaced by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti.