Arthur Roche
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Arthur Roche

Arthur Roche
Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Bishop Arthur Roche 2008.jpg
Roche as Bishop of Leeds in 2008
SeeLeeds (emeritus)
Appointed26 June 2012
PredecessorJoseph Augustine Di Noia OP
Ordination19 July 1975
by William Wheeler
Consecration10 May 2001
by Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Personal details
Born (1950-03-06) 6 March 1950 (age 69)
Batley Carr, West Riding of Yorkshire, United Kingdom
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsArthur and Frances Roche
Previous post
MottoDuc in Altum (Put out into the deep)
Coat of armsArthur Roche's coat of arms
Styles of
Arthur Roche
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Grace
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
Arthur Roche
Priestly ordination
William Wheeler (Leeds)
Date19 July 1975
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorCormac Murphy-O'Connor (Westminster)
David Konstant (Leeds)
Victor Guazzelli (Westminster aux.)
Date10 May 2001

Arthur Roche (born 6 March 1950) is an English prelate of the Catholic Church who has been an archbishop and the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since 2012. Roche was the ninth Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds from 2004 to 2012, having served previously as Coadjutor Bishop of Leeds and before that as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster.

Early life and ministry

Arthur Roche was born in Batley Carr, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Arthur and Frances Roche. He attended St Joseph's Primary School, St John Fisher High School and Christleton Hall. From 1969 to 1975, he studied at St Alban's College in Valladolid, Spain, where he obtained a degree in theology from the Comillas Pontifical University. Upon his return to England, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William Wheeler for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds on 19 July 1975.

Roche's first appointment in the diocese was as assistant priest at Holy Rood Church in Barnsley until 1978, when he became private secretary to Bishop William Gordon Wheeler. He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the diocese in 1979. From 1982 to 1989, he served on the staff of St Anne's Cathedral in Leeds, and helped to organise the visit of Pope John Paul II to York in May 1982.

Roche was the diocesan Financial Secretary from 1986 to 1991 and parish priest at St Wilfrid's Church from 1989 to 1991. In 1991, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University, earning a Licence in Theology (STL). He then became spiritual director of the Venerable English College. He was appointed General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in April 1996 and given the title of Monsignor.

Episcopal career

On 12 April 2001, Pope John Paul II named Roche an auxiliary bishop of Westminster and titular bishop of Rusticiana.[1][2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following 10 May in Westminster Cathedral from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, with Bishops David Konstant and Victor Guazzelli serving as co-consecrators.[]

Bishop of Leeds

Roche was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Leeds on 16 July 2002[3] and became the ninth Bishop of Leeds when Pope John Paul accepted David Konstant's resignation on 7 April 2004.[4] In July 2002, he was elected chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which oversees the translation of the Mass into English. The Commission had failed to win Vatican approval of its 1998 translation of the Mass, and Roche's appointment was part of an overhaul to end the stalemate and produce the more literal translation that Rome wanted.[a][6][7]

He is best known in Yorkshire for the trouble he got into with Canon Law at the closure of the parish St John the Evangelist, Allerton Bywater.[]

Roche had been mentioned as a possible successor to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster, leader of the Church in England and Wales.[8] He was even said to be the cardinal's favoured candidate.[9] His name had also been mentioned as a possible successor to Archbishop Kevin McDonald as Archbishop of Southwark.[]

As the chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Roche announced that the new translation of the Mass into English was ready. This new translation of the Roman Missal was introduced into Catholic parishes in the United Kingdom in September 2011.[10]

Congregation for Divine Worship

On 26 June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Roche Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments CDW and raised him to the rank of archbishop.[b][12][13] As Secretary, he has maintained the low profile typical of his curial rank, signing statements and doing press relations in tandem with his superiors, until 2014 Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera and then Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation. He played a larger role when Pope Francis asked him in December 2016 to chair a commission to determine who should have responsibility for translating liturgical texts into the vernacular, apparently because Sarah was not in synch with Francis' views.[14] In September 2017, when Francis released his letter Magnum principium giving regional and national bishops' synods the dominant role and constraining the authority of the CDW, Roche provided the commentary and Sarah played no role.[15][16][17]

On 29 March 2014 Pope Francis named Roche a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.[18][19]


  1. ^ Roche was not as clearly aligned with one side in the translation dispute as were other Commission members.[5]
  2. ^ Roche replaced Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, who said he was "flabbergasted" by his removal after just three years as secretary.[11]


  1. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 12.04.2001" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 12 April 2001. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ "Off to Serve the Holy Father". Diocese of Leeds. 27 September 2012. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 16.07.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 16 July 2002. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 07.04.2004" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 7 April 2004. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (14 February 2003). "German translations latest to face Vatican crackdown". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (30 August 2002). "Liturgical language struggle takes turn to traditionalism". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2020.
  7. ^ Reese, Thomas (12 September 2017). "Reforming Catholic liturgy should be like updating software". National Catholic Reporter. Religion News Service. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ Gledhill, Ruth (22 November 2008). "Pope asked to pick from four names as Archbishop of Westminster steps down". Times Online. London.
  9. ^ Gledhill, Ruth (19 March 2009). "Arthur Roche still in running for Westminster". Times Online. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009.
  10. ^ "England and Wales: New Missal Translation Ready". Rome. 18 January 2011.
  11. ^ Glatz, Carol (27 June 2012). "Pope names US archbishop to new post to aid talks with traditionalists". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 2020.
  12. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 26.06.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ "Archbishop Arthur Roche Bishop Emeritus of Leeds". The Diocese of Leeds. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ O'Connell, Gerard (9 September 2017). "Pope Francis has ordered a review of the new Mass translation rules". America. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ Schlumpf, Heidi (11 September 2017). "New church law on translations is 'good news' for the church". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ "Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio Magnum principium". Congregation for Divine Worship. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ Lamb, Christopher (9 September 2017). "Pope releases new liturgical law paving way for revision of English missal". The Tablet. Retrieved 2020. Significantly it was Archbishop Roche, and not Cardinal Robert Sarah, the liturgy department's prefect, who wrote the article. Cardinal Sarah has been a supporter of Liturgiam Authenticam and critical of some changes to the Mass which took place after Vatican II. It was also Archbishop Roche whom the Pope asked to lead a low-key commission examining Liturgiam Authenticam.
  18. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 29.03.2014" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ "Pope confirms heads of Vatican's curial agencies". The Pilot. 29 March 2014. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014.

External links

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