His Excellency, The Most Reverend
|Cardinal-Designate, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops|
|Church||Roman Catholic Church|
|Appointed||15 September 2020|
|Other posts||Member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (2020—)|
|Ordination||22 May 1984|
by Nikol Joseph Cauchi
|Consecration||22 January 2006|
by Nikol Joseph Cauchi
|Birth name||Mario Grech|
|Born||20 February 1957|
|Parents||George and Stella Grech|
|Motto||In fractione panis|
|Coat of arms|
|Reference style||The Most Reverend |
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Mario Grech (20 February 1957) is a Maltese prelate who was Bishop of Gozo from 2005 to 2019. He was Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops from October 2019 until he became Secretary General in September 2020.
On 25 October 2020, Pope Francis announced he would raise him to the rank of cardinal at a consistory scheduled for 28 November 2020.
Mario Grech was born in Qala, Gozo, on 20 February 1957. His family moved to Ta' Kerċem when he was a young boy. He attended the Victoria high school and then studied philosophy and theology at the Gozo diocesan seminary. He was ordained a priest on 26 May 1984. He then obtained a licenciate in civil and canon at the Pontifical Lateran University and a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
He then fulfilled pastoral assignments at the Cathedral of Gozo, in the National Shrine of Ta' Pinu, and the parish of Kerċem. His responsibilities for the Diocese of Gozo included service as Judicial Vicar of the diocese, a member of the Metropolitan Court of Malta, teacher of canon law at the seminary, and a member of the College of Consultors, of the Presbyteral Council and of other diocesan commissions.
Bishop of Gozo
On 26 November 2005, Pope Benedict XVI named him Bishop of Gozo. He received his episcopal consecration on 22 January 2006 from his predecessor in Gozo, Bishop Nikol Joseph Cauchi. In 2011, he joined other Maltese bishops in advising Catholics to defeat a referendum that would allow the legislature to consider legalizing divorce.
As president of the Episcopal Conference of Malta, he participated in the Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014 and 2015. Speaking to the Synod in October 2014, Grech said that "the doctrine of the faith is capable of progressively acquiring a greater depth" and that addressing people in complex familial relations, or homosexuals or parents of homosexuals, "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." With Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, Grech co-authored the Maltese bishops' pastoral guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, released in January 2017, which stated that in certain cases a divorced Catholic who remarried might receive Communion after "honest discernment". The guidelines were republished in L'Osservatore Romano.[a]
In a December 2018 interview, he said he enjoyed discussions with atheists that sharpened his own beliefs and preferred dialogue to the confrontation his critics preferred. When asked about family and sexual issues he said:
If someone comes to me, asking me for help to discover Jesus Christ... he or she could be homosexual, and even in a homosexual relationship. It doesn’t matter. I will not impede that person; on the contrary I would help. The last thing I would do is take up a position against that person.... Before, we would say: 'put your life in order first, and then we’ll begin the journey towards God'. Today, on the other hand, we would say: 'Let us approach Jesus Christ... and Christ will help us put our lives in order.' ... 'Black' and 'white' still exist; but the grey area in-between has grown. It is in the grey areas that we must search. That’s why I said that I am wary of those priests, or Christians, who feel they already know all the answers. No one can make that claim. We all have to continue searching.
Synod of Bishops
On 2 October 2019, Pope Francis named him Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, in anticipation of succeeding Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri when he retired as Secretary General. Grech worked alongside Baldisseri and participated as a member in the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region. Grech was also the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gozo until 2020. He was one of five Synod officials who served ex offico on the fifteen-person commission that was responsible for drafting the final document of the Amazon Synod.
In his first interview after his appointment he stated that "there is a movement toward which the Church can acquire a greater feminine face that would also reflect Mary’s face".
Grech succeeded Baldisseri on 15 September 2020.
It is of concern that someone feels lost outside of the Eucharistic or worship context, for it shows an ignorance of other ways of engaging with the mystery. This not only indicates that there is a certain spiritual illiteracy, but is proof of the inadequacy of current pastoral practice. It is very likely that in the recent past our pastoral activity has sought to lead to the sacraments and not to lead – through the sacraments – to Christian life.
- The guidelines said: "If, as a result of the process of discernment, a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist."
- "Rinunce e Nomine, 20.11.2005" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 20 November 2005. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Malta bishops say divorce voters are 'accountable to Jesus'". Catholic News Agency. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "XIV Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi (4-25 ottobre 2015) - Elenco dei Partecipanti, 15.09.2015" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Speech by Bishop Mario Grech during the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops" (Press release). Archdiocese of Malta. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- Brockhaus, Hannah (2 October 2019). "Pope Francis appoints Maltese bishop pro-secretary general of Synod of Bishops". Catholic Herald. Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- San Martín, Inés (20 January 2017). "Malta bishop denies threatening to suspend anti-'Amoris' priests". Crux. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- Grech, Mario (16 December 2018). "Closer to the Infinite: Bishop Mario Grech". Malta Today (Interview). Interviewed by Saviour Balzan.
- Lamb, Christopher (2 October 2019). "Maltese pastor chosen to head Francis' Synod of Bishops". The Tablet. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 02.10.2019" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Elizalde Prada, Óscar (15 October 2019). "El Papa define la Comisión de Redacción del Sínodo Panamazónico con cuatro hombres de confianza". Vida Nueva Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 16.09.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 04.07.2020" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 4 July 2020. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
- "Bishop Mario Grech: An interview with the new secretary of the Synod of Bishops". La Civiltà Cattolica (Interview). Interviewed by Antonio Spadaro and Simone Sereni. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
- O'Connell, Gerard (25 October 2020). "Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals, including Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington D.C." America. Retrieved 25 October 2020.