The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech ‘tipped’ by Pope Francis to be next archbishop?

Sunday, 19 October 2014, 09:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

With yesterday's official resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona, the way is now open and the competition is on for a successor to be chosen. The names of a number of frontrunners have been posited lately, but it seems that Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is in pole position.

And, given the turn of events in the Maltese Church over the last few days, an anecdote from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome that reached this newsroom some days ago from people very close to Mgr Grech has become all the more pertinent.

Pope Francis, it seems, was extremely pleased with the Gozo Bishop's address to the Synod on 8 October. So much so that the next morning, over breakfast at Casa Marta, Pope Francis tapped Mgr Grech on the shoulder and complimented him on his speech. That, people close to Mgr Grech informed this newsroom, was followed by another friendly pat on the back during the next coffee break.

At the time, the anecdote was little more than that, but given the context of recent days' events - and the fact that Archbishop Emeritus Cremona's request to the Vatican to resign certainly did not come out of the blue - the anecdote could be much more than that.

What Mgr Grech told the Synod

In his address to the Synod, Mgr Grech strayed from his characteristically conservative, at times fire and brimstone, tone.

In his address, Mgr Grech observed, "Today's family also quite commonly includes the following scenarios: the situation of a man and woman, both divorced and who now live together in a second relationship; or the case where a son or a daughter profess to be gay; or that given context whereby the exercise of responsible fatherhood proves to be a constant hurdle; relationships that are torn apart by failure; or the challenge of having to live in a framework which renders incomprehensible the very concepts of natural law... We need to know our families very well if we are to offer them the Gospel in a practical way.

"A good point of departure would be in our choice of language - may it be the language of a Church that is both merciful and brings healing. I must confess to facing the urgency of this need while listening to families of homosexuals as well as to the same persons having such an orientation and who feel wounded by the language directed towards them in certain texts. For instance, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these persons consequently struggle both with maintaining their faith alive as well as cultivating their sense of filial belonging to the Church. It is necessary to learn to speak that language which is known to contemporary human beings and who acknowledge it as a way of conveying the truth and the charity of the Gospel: "If we wish to adapt to people's language and to reach them with God's word, we need to share in their lives and pay loving attention to them."

The message would have undoubtedly gone down well with Pope Francis, who has been exploring new ways to reach out to such people who feel disenfranchised by the Church.

Mgr Grech also spoke of accompaniment, explaining: "The Church must offer meaningful accompaniment to all persons, acknowledging that 'each person's situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without'. Without complacently 'giving in to frustrations or fears' nor being dragged into a 'do-it-yourself' attitude to the Gospel, we must develop forms of accompaniment for each person, suggesting a path forward that is conducive to real growth in faith and communion with the internal life of the Church.

"Such resources of accompaniment should not exhaust themselves by merely declaring such and such a situation to be 'irregular' and therefore to be treated as 'irreversible' without having a clear mind about the ways in which these brothers and sisters of ours may mature towards full communion."


The full text of Mgr Grech's speech to the Synod can be found at:



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