Cardinal-elect Mario Grech reflects on loneliness and solitude

Dun Mario Grech
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Loneliness is not the scourge of the old or of the destitute. Loneliness can hit persons whom one would never imagine that they could feel that sense of isolation. In an interview with Newsbook Q&A, Cardinal-elect Mario Grech said that the Pope himself admitted to a feeling of loneliness. Dun Mario, as he preferred to be called, recalled a recent interview in which His Holiness Pope Francis spoke on the subject of loneliness was brought up. The Pope confided that on the one hand he feels lonely when the people who should cooperate with him do not, when those who should roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for others are not doing so, or because they don’t follow his directions indications. These words, reflected the soon-to-be Cardinal, indicate a very heavy burden aggravating the already onerous load which the Pontiff must carry.

Not an exception

Dun Mario said that the Pope mentioned another type of loneliness, one which he does not feel because he has found so many like-minded people who take risks and put their lives on the line  because they know that they are on the path to righteousness. However, the former Bishop observed that the loftier the position, greater the possible isolation of the incumbent. He admitted to similar feelings in his tenure in the Diocese of Gozo “I am not an exception to the rule,” smiled the Cardinal-elect.


Dun Mario recalled an episode when he was given a letter by a functionary in the Vatican who told expressly that ‘thigs here do not change’. He said that he repeated this to the Poe and repeated also the words spoken to him. “Pope Francis pointed his index finger to the letter, tapping it, saying ‘And that is the sin, when we think that everything must remain the same’ when there is no agent of change,” said Dun Mario. But, countered Newsbook, is that not too high a price to pay, this constant feeling of solitude? “Not when it is Christ who is calling for change we should not be afraid even if the price is high,” came the trite reply from the Cardinal-elect.

On guard against loneliness

Uprooting from Gozo to transplant to a cosmopolitan centre of the size of Rome is never an easy decision, particularly when you are leaving behind all your support structure. Dun Mario feels that. Probed by Newsbook, he said that his day starts early with prayer and mass. Then he goes to work. The evenings, however, sometimes leave him at loose ends. While he said that the found a ‘new family’ with the Augustinian friars where he is living, solitude can be a great danger and he said that he was on the look-out not to slide down that path.

Given his positive outlook on life as well as the considerable volume of work, Newsbook Q&A is certain that Dun Mario will fulfil his role excellently and in good cheer.