Bishop Grech ‘unlikely to leave’ before August – Vatican Insiders

Amid speculation on the succession of the Gozo Bishopric, punters seem to be ignoring the obvious

Bishop Mario Grech concelebrating mass at the opening of the Synod
Bishop Mario Grech concelebrating mass at the opening of the Synod

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

“It is highly unlikely that, all things being equal, the Bishop of Gozo leaves before August 2020”. This was the affirmation Newsbook.com.mt got from observers of the ecclesiastical scene in reaction rumours that the Apostolic Nuncio started his scouting for Mgr Grech’s successor. The same sources said that, given the timeline, the submission of the ‘terna’, the three names which would be submitted for scrutiny to the Congregation of Bishops, would most likely be formulated around March. The Congregation of Bishops, after scrutiny, would then make a recommendation to the Pope.

The Succession issue in Gozo is, currently very interesting given that this tiny diocese has already 5 ordained Bishops. While a new face may be awarded the purple skull cap, it is also entirely possible that a Maltese bishop of Gozitan origin would be relocated to the sister diocese. In this framework, Bishop Bugeja, currently serving in Libya may be considered a possibility, observed the ecclesiastical insiders. Moreover, any of the currently anointed bishops, both Maltese and Gozitan, could be in for the running.

However, all this seems to be rather premature, particularly since the announcement of Mgr Grech’s appointment specifically pointed out that the Bishop will be taking up his duties in August 2020 when Cardinal Baldisseri, whom Mgr Grech is replacing, will retire. Vatican insiders have explained, rather wryly, that the retirement of a cardinal is not a matter of “give him a watch and a drink and say ‘So Long’, it is a rather elaborate affair”. With this in mind the transition from the Gozo Bishopric, of which, Mgr Grech is, and will presumably remain until replacement, Apostolic Administrator, to pro-secretary of the Synod of Bishops is unlikely to be a quick one.

The straight-talking Bishop

This will work in Mgr Grech’s favour, particularly since his appointment came directly by Papal fiat and by-passed the normal channels for appointments. Little known in Vatican circles, Mgr Grech’s appointment, according to Vaticanistas, created quite a buzz . “He is being described as ‘The Pope’s Field Marshall’ since, this position will, most likely, translate the Synodal and Papal direction into clear strategy” said one insider. Newsbook.com.mt asked why, therefore, this relatively unknown quantity was so speedily and meteorically elevated. “His speech at the Synod was a game-changer. And he challenged the Pope’s motivation to call a Synod, directly, echoing Francis’ wish to see change. Pope Francis does not surround himself with yes-men and this for him, was an eye-opener” was the trite reply. Pope Francis, aware that his papacy will not be over-long, is understandably keen to recruit people who can translate his vison into a realisable future, to ensure that the Church remains relevant to its core: the family.