[WATCH] Church needs new digital pastoral, Bishop Mario Grech says

Bishop Mario Grech says the Catholic Church needs to move with the culture of the times in order to continue serving its mission in the post-COVID-19 reality

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is calling for a new digital pastoral for the church in a post-COVID-19 era
Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is calling for a new digital pastoral for the church in a post-COVID-19 era

Outgoing Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has cautioned against laziness and the fear that stops church people from adapting to the new world after COVID-19.

Finding refuge in the traditions and practices of the past will disconnect the church from the culture of the times, Grech warned in an interview on TVM’s Xtra.

The bishop, who will soon be leaving his post to take up another position in the Holy See, said the world will no longer be the same as it was before the pandemic, including the Christian community.

“I am afraid that if we, as a Church, keep on repeating the same schemes, and producing the same services that we gave until yesterday, we will not be in line with the culture of the times,” Grech said, questioning whether the Church’s practices are relevant to a contemporary audience.

“If we do not provide a service for the contemporary individual, the people of today, what reason do we have to exist?” he asked.

He urged the Christian community to become more creative in looking for new ways of opening a window to God, noting that the pandemic enabled the Church to discover what he labelled as a new, “digital pastoral”.

“Within the Christian community there is room to develop the digital pastoral. We need to learn this as well,” he said.

However, Grech also cautioned against the type of services which are being offered via this new medium.

“We made a mass production of the celebration of Mass using videos and Facebook, but I ask, did we engage with the people, or did we offer a liturgy which is distanced from life and from the people?”

The bishop emphasised the importance of creating a sense of community within the Catholic Church, arguing that this is currently lacking.

“We speak of a parochial community, but I fear they are empty words. I don’t feel that there is the sense of a community,” Grech said.

He insisted that this creation of a community must be the first step in the new way forward, adding that it can be done “not by first addressing the requirements of the spirit, but by paying more attention to each other”.

Questioned by presenter Saviour Balzan as to whether his views are shared by others within the Church, Grech said that the need for revitalisation is a “pastoral preoccupation” felt within the universal Church, and is not just his idea.

However, he noted that there are also people who wish to remain stuck in the past.

“Let us not forget that there is another current in the Church as well. There is the current that does not want to move, that wants us to keep singing yesterday’s song, and if we continue swimming in these waters, I think it would be disastrous,” he cautioned.

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