Gozo Bishop warns of populism threat to the Church

Ritratt: Noel Camilleri

A church of the masses could lead the Church to lose focus of its aims according to the Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech. The Bishop was con-celebrating the feast of St Anthony the Abbott in Xagħra, where he delivered his homily on Sunday.

The Bishop warned those present that populism presents a threat to the Church, and reminded how one should remember Christ.

The Bishop said that St Anthony the Abbot is known as the Father of All Monks, as he organised his disciples into a worshipful community and inspired similar communities. Although he was not the first hermit, he was the first to organise individuals into the devotional practice of individuals who live an ascetic life dedicated to worship.

Mgr Grech retold the story of St Anthony who lived during the third and fourth century, and how he had given away some of his family’s lands to his neighbours, sold the remaining property and donated the funds raised to the poor before he left to live an ascetic life. St Anthony attracted visitors and disciples, and founded two monasteries.

Drawing on St Anthony’s story, Mgr Grech told those present that many who had joined the saint were not only escaping from this world but also from the Church.

According to the Bishop of Gozo, the Church did not quench the spiritual thirst of man and as a consequence many started to leave the church, with the Bishop explaining that those who left the Church were not “bad people” but had left because they had not found God despite having looked for him. The bishop further stated that these people would have sought God outside the ecclesiastical structures, following in the footsteps of St Anthony.