“The lockdown has revealed spiritual illiteracy” – Bishop Grech

“Spiritual illiteracy”, “clericalism”, “immature faith”. Bishop Mario Grech, who is now the new Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, said he is quite critical of the attitude of many Catholics during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Grech was interviewed by  La Civilta Cattolica published, earlier this month, where he explained how the Church must learn the lessons of isolation by challenging its “pastoral models” and rehabilitating the “domestic Church”.

Bishop Mario Grech, was the former president of the Maltese Episcopal Conference, in 2019 he was appointed as Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and in September of this year, he was appointed by Pope Francis as Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops.

“The life of the Church has not been interrupted”

During the pandemic, including through social media, we have seen a degree of exhibitionism and pietism that has more to do with magic than with the expression of a mature faith, said Bishop Grech, while stating that the Church has not always been up to the situation and has been divided on the question of the impossibility of accessing the sacraments.

“In the situation that avoided the celebration of the sacraments, we did not realize that there were other ways in which to experience God,” said Grech.

He mentioned how people were worried because they have not been able to receive Communion and celebrate funerals in church but they were not very concerned about reconciling with God and with their neighbour, about how to hear and celebrate the Word of God and how to lead a life of service.

“The Eucharist is not the only possibility that a Christian has to experience the mystery and meet the Lord Jesus”. In this regard, Bishop Grech quoted Pope Paul VI, who taught how “in the Eucharist, the presence of Christ is ‘real’, but not by exclusion, as if the others were not ‘real'”.

He then emphasised how if we, the Church, returns to the same pastoral models after the pandemic, “it will be suicide.”

Grech said he believes that the coronavirus pandemic must be recognized as an opportunity for the Church that offers a chance for renewal.

The former bishop of Gozo explained how he believes that the notion of the domestic church, even if underlined by the Second Vatican Council, has undoubtedly been the victim of perverse clericalism. In his opinion, this “negative turn” can be traced back to the concept of the domestic Church dating back to the fourth century, “when the sacralization of priests and bishops took place, to the detriment of the common priesthood of Baptism”.

During the interview, he further explained that with an increase in the institutionalization of the Church, the nature and charisma of the family as a domestic Church have diminished. He then added how “God has entrusted to the family not the responsibility of intimacy as an end in itself, but the exciting project of making the world ‘domestic'”.