Pope Francis slaps down cardinal: You cannot 'impose' your interpretations of liturgy

Pope Francis has rebuked one of his Cardinals in a row over whether Rome can 'impose' its interpretation on different bishops' conferences around the world.

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote a commentary claiming he could still tell different areas of the Catholic diaspora how to interpret certain liturgies.

Cardinal Robert Sarah near St Peter's Square in Rome. Reuters

In doing so he was downplaying the significance of Pope Francis's recent document Magnum Principium where he stated that local hierarchies should have the power to translate liturgy into their own local language.

Pope Francis' unusual public correction is the second time he has rebuked Cardinal Sarah and the 72-year-old is increasingly at odds with the pontiff.

In a letter sent to Cardinal Sarah and then released by the Vatican, Francis corrects his view, saying translations 'should not lead to a "imposition" to the Episcopal Conferences of a given translation made by the Dicastery, as this would undermine the right of the bishops'.

Except from 'obvious cases' it is up to local bishops, not the Vatican, to translate, Francis said, adding 'a detailed word-by-word examination' was not required by Cardinal Sarah and his team.

The change now allows local bishops' conferences the right to judge 'authenticity and consistency of one and the other terms in translations' which should take place in 'dialogue with the Holy See', he said.

The dispute is unusual because Francis typically does not respond to his critics, previously saying he 'doesn't lose any sleep' over his opponents.

But Cardinal Sarah's seniority and position within the Vatican may have elicited the formal rebuke with Pope Francis feeling a correction was necessary.