Message by Cardinal-Elect Mario Grech “I confess to you that I was a little overwhelmed by our nation’s reaction to the announcement made by Pope Francis when he said that he would join me in the College of Cardinals of the Church. I have heard many say that they cried with joy when they heard the name of one of their brothers on the Pope’s lips! I wonder how what happened on that on that day Francis’ cry echoed in the hearts of many and its echo spread in homes, workplaces, hospitals, streets and so on. and hope.
Many felt a sense of satisfaction because once the Pope also remembered us while thinking of a “consistory”, which is the highest organ in the Church with which he consults, it means that, despite our smallness, he knows about us and respects us.
I say this not with praise but with a sense of appreciation for the great good we have both as a Church and as a country; with a sense of recognition to those before us, in the Church and in civil society; and with a sense of responsibility for us to take care of growing the good we have while weeding the weeds that emerge over time.
The fresh air that came upon us with this news means that in the hearts of Maltese and Gozitans the Church still makes a sound. The Church, despite its flaws and mistakes, still has its roots in the heart of our nation. The signs show that the Church has a place. Had Her time passed, would there be so many people among us who would watch the Pope’s message on television on Sunday at noon and pray for the Angelus with him? If the Church is no longer relevant to Maltese and Gozitans, would there be this interest in the choices made by the Pope?
Of course there is a “model” of the Church and an outdated ecclesial lifestyle; it is also true that if we are not careful our words can fall on deaf ears. But when it comes to the essence, people can express their faith. As Pope Francis writes, God’s people “do not err in believing, even if they do not find the words to express their faith” (EG, 119).
It is important, therefore, that the flame of faith in Christ remain burning in our hearts and in our families. The reaction that has been noticed in the past days is a clear indicator that Christ still equips us. Even if we want to widen somewhat the gap between faith and practical life, that our share in liturgical life is strengthened in number and quality, I believe that Christ still raises in us the crucial questions. I believe that even those of us who went up to the Church but now “left it”, have not yet left Jesus. I say this because even people like this have shown their appreciation for this event.
In support of the Christian faith, I urge you to listen to your fellow Bishops. Unity with the bishops is a guarantee that we will not err when we want to know what the Spirit wants to say to the Churches gathered in Malta and Gozo. In the words of Pope Francis, “the important thing is not to walk alone, to always rely on our brothers and especially on the light that the Bishops give us, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment” (EG, 33).
I want the positive spirit I feel these days to turn into a prayer for me to be a good tool in my weakness. The word “cardinal” comes from the word cardine which means “pivot” on which everything revolves. That is why I have been called to help the Church in this office as a cardinal to be this pivot by continuing to help human beings enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ which is the main axis on which our lives rest individually and collectively. . I am convinced that if Christ is the center of life, then great reforms will take place; but no reform can be carried out (in personal, family, social, political, economic and ecclesial life) if this axis is missing.
This is what I wish you, Gozitan and Maltese brothers and sisters. With the intercession of St. Paul our Father who led us to follow Jesus, and of Our Lady of the Pines who with her maternal love weighs us down to take small steps in the path of discipleship, I ask upon you the blessing of God.
Vatican City, 28 November 2020
Mario Cardinal Grech
Via Facebook / Osservatore Romano