Listen: ‘I did not believe them at first,’ Cardinal-elect Grech recalls

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Former Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech had no advance knowledge of Pope Francis’ decision to make him a Cardinal, and he was far from the first to find out, as he recounts to

Mgr Grech, who presently serves as the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, is set to become Gozo’s first Cardinal on 28 November. There have only been two Maltese Cardinals to date: Fabrizio Sciberras Testaferrata, a Bishop of Senigallia who was made Cardinal in 1816, and Prospero Grech, who was made cardinal on 2012 and who passed away last year.

The announcement was made by Pope Francis during his Sunday Angelus.

The 62-year-old prelate told that he was heading back home after having a coffee with a fellow cleric when he received a phone call from a couple he has long known who congratulated him on his appointment.

“To be honest, I did not believe them at first, but they assured me it was true,” he recalled. In any case, any lingering doubts would soon be cast away, as a flood of messages and phone calls reached him in short order.

“Naturally, I did not expect such a surprise,” Mgr Grech said. “And if you ask me what it means, I must tell you that I still need to learn.”

He noted that Cardinals – particularly those based in Rome, as he is – were often assigned an office through which to help the Pope.

While he will continue serving at the helm of the Synod of Bishops – “which is close to the Pope’s Heart” – he said that there may now be other ways though which he may be asked to contribute.