Gozo to get new bishop after Pope Francis appoints Mgr Mario Grech to top church role

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has been appointed by Pope Francis to serve as secretary general of the synod of bishops, one of the highest pastoral organs of the Catholic church

Pope Francis has appointed Gozo Bishop Mario Grech to the role of Secretary General of the synod of bishops
Pope Francis has appointed Gozo Bishop Mario Grech to the role of Secretary General of the synod of bishops

Gozo will be getting a new bishop shortly after incumbent Mario Grech was appointed secretary general of the synod of bishops by Pope Francis.

Grech’s appointment to the prestigious role was announced today by the Vatican.

He will continue to serve as apostolic administrator of the Gozo diocese until a new bishop is appointed.

Grech will head the synod of bishops, which is one of the highest pastoral organs of the Catholic church. He will formally take over from current secretary general Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri when his term ends in August 2020.

The role Mgr Mario Grech has been given represents the immense trust the Pope has in him... [it] is one of the highest roles ever occupied by a Maltese in the Vatican Frank zammit, Malta's ambassador to the Holy See

Malta’s ambassador to the Vatican, Frank Zammit, said Grech’s appointment signals the trust Pope Francis has in the Gozo Bishop.

“The role Mgr Mario Grech has been given represents the immense trust the Pope has in him. This role puts Grech at the heart of the collegial decisions bishops take and is one of the highest roles ever occupied by a Maltese in the Vatican,” Zammit said.

Vatican observers believe this appointment would put Grech on the road to become cardinal.

Grech and Archbishop Charles Scicluna had wholeheartedly embraced the Pope’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which was a source of controversy within the Catholic church over its opening to divorced Catholics.

Grech and Scicluna faced internal flak from the more conservative elements of the Maltese Catholic church after they issued guidelines to priests in line with Amoris Laetitia.

But their guidelines were seen as a trailblazing initiative at a time when conservative forces were openly challenging the Pope.

Grech, 62, was appointed bishop of Gozo in November 2005. He took possession of the diocese in January 2006.

The Synod of Bishops was established by St Paul VI on 15 September 1965 on request of the bishops who participated in the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council.

Two synods on the family that preceded the Papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia had brought out significant divisions in the Catholic church
Two synods on the family that preceded the Papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia had brought out significant divisions in the Catholic church

Pope Francis renewed the structure and made it central to the decision-making process of the Catholic church.

The Synod is composed of a general secretary, an under-secretary and a number of special councils of bishops.

Grech’s first job will be attending the special synod for bishops from the Amazonian region in South America, which open on Sunday in the Vatican. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Grech as a member of this synod.

Grech’s appointment follows that of Archbishop Scicluna, who earlier this year was mandated by Pope Francis to serve as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases.

Maltese bishops congratulate Grech

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi have congratulated Grech over his new appointment, and thanked him for the work he has done over the past 14 years as head of the Gozo diocese.

The bishops promised their prayers for Grech and the diocese of Gozo.

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