It was with sentiments of both joy and surprise that the Church in Gozo received the news that Bishop Mario Grech, Bishop Emeritus of Gozo and Secretary for the Synod of Bishops in Rome, was one of the newly-designated cardinals due to be installed in the upcoming Consistory of November 28. Although it was a known fact that various past Secretaries of the Synod were named cardinals of the Roman Church, nobody expected Bishop Grech to be elevated to this much esteemed position in the Church at the beginning of his new ministry within the Vatican.

Rather than repeated biographical information that can be easily accessed elsewhere, we would like to take the opportunity to express our sense of appreciation. Bishop Mario Grech’s elevation to the rank of cardinal within the Church is without precedent in the history of our local Gozitan Church. It has to be said that throughout the centuries, the Christian community of Gozo remained faithful to the Christian faith even during the Arabization of the island. The long poem entitled Tristia ex Melitogaudo translated from the original into English by classical scholar Professor Horatio Caesar Roger Vella – together with Professor Stanley Fiorini and Rev. Joseph Busuttil – and published in book form a few years ago, is a clear proof that while members of the Christian flock in Malta converted to Islam, the Gozitans held to the old faith. Therefore, from a historical point of view, having a cardinal hailing from Gozo can be perceived as a sign of appreciation for this historical milieu that is very often forgotten. This does not in any way distract us from the fact that the honour Mgr Mario Grech has received is also one that will continue to bring to the fore his personal talents and abilities.

Bishop Mario’s inclusion among the porporati will certainly make the island of Gozo more renowned in the ecclesiastical circles; let us hope that the Catholic community of our island finds new strength in this unique event that has come to pass and continue to take seriously its Christian vocation. From the columns of our website we congratulate our Cardinal Mario Grech and wish him the best. Ad multos annos!