Maltese theologian to be appointed Cardinal

Second ever Maltese cardinal is consultant to Congregation of Doctrine to the Faith

Prospero Grech is to be appointed Cardinal.
Prospero Grech is to be appointed Cardinal.

The Augustinian theologian Prospero Grech is to become the first Maltese cardinal when Pope Benedict XVI calls a consistory on 18 February and appoint 22 new cardinals.

Grech was made a Companion of the National Order of Merit in December 2011 in the Republic Day honours for his role as a theologian.

"It is with great joy for the people of our islands, especially the Catholic Church, that amongst them is a Maltese priest," the Curia said in a statement.

The Maltese Bishops said they consider this appointment as a "personal tribute" to Grech and a recognition of the contribution that the Church in Malta has given and continues to give to the Universal Church. "It will be a great pleasure for us to welcome and celebrate this honour bestowed on Fr Grech in the near future."

The first Maltese Cardinal was Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata (1757-1843), Apostolic Nuncio who was created cardinal reserved in pectore in 1816 and elevated to cardinal-priest two years later. Cardinal Sceberras Testaferrata is buried in the Cathedral of Senigallia, Italy.

Born 1925 in Birgu, Fr Prospero Grech served as secretary at the Vatican vicarate and professor at the Augustine Institute, Rome and founded the Istituto Patristico Augostinianum, Rome in 1970. He is a member of the Societas Studiorum Novi Testamenti (SNTS) and member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

He has lectured for over thirty years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome on hermeneutics.

He was professor of Biblical Theology at the Lateran University, Rome, Counsellor to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and Secretary of the Maltese Augustinian province. He was also nominated Apostolic Visitor for seminaries in India.

Grech joined the Augustinian Order in 1943 and seven years later was ordained at San Giovanni Laterano in Rome.

After graduating Doctor of Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome (1953), Grech conducted research in Semitic languages at Oxford (1957-58) and Cambridge (1958-59) Universities.

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