The essence is what really matters
Editorial, The Times of Malta
Thursday, 31st July 2008

 Bishop’s homily Pontifical Mass, Għarb

Editorial, Times of Malta
31st July, 2008

The essence is what really matters

Does the Church in Malta and Gozo always have its priorities right? Is it always fully aware of what is happening around it? Is the Catholic community spending all its energies on the most important issues?
Among those who would give a negative answer to the above three questions is the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr Mario Grech. He recently did so during the homily of the Pontifical Mass celebrating the feast of the patron saint of the parish of Għarb. Usually, these Pontifical Masses are characterised by the traditional panegyric, which many times has more form than content. Bishop Grech has decided to officiate at festa Pontifical Masses in all parishes and makes it a point to deliver an important message to the members of the Church.

This is what he said to the parishioners of Għarb:
“We are living at a time when we are still discussing and creating conflicts about ecclesiastical titles. We are wasting the time of those who would like to use it for pastoral work.
“While we are wasting our time in these controversies, our society is passing through a revolution. We have a grave responsibility in front of God. What will be the answer that we, as a Church, will give God and our fellow humans?”
These are indeed strong words. The Bishop was saying that the Catholic community is giving importance to what is inconsequential while letting the important and essential slip through its fingers. These strong words of auto criticism come from the head of the diocese of Gozo and are a clear example of a prophetic stance.
The Bishop feels that the Catholic community is not doing enough in front of a culture that is reducing God to the sidelines.
Moral relativism and a decline in the support for the pro-life culture are two other examples he mentioned. The drug problem is for Bishop Grech one sign of this culture of death, which he aptly described as a “murderous phenomenon.”
A similar appeal for a Church which actively participates in society was delivered during his homily on the occasion of the feast of St George. He said that the Catholic community cannot remain absent or marginalised from the public debate going on in our country as it can contribute certain valid arguments on, for example, human life, the safeguarding and the promotion of the family, the defence of minors and on an economy that benefits humankind.
In the editorial on the conjoint pastoral letter on the occasion of the Pauline Year, The Times had noted the Bishops’ commitment to propose and build a new order in the public life of our country. Bishop Grech’s speeches clarify what he means by this endeavour.
One has still to wait and see what type of strategy will emanate from the speeches and positions taken by Bishop Grech on the relationship between society and the Church. The strategy proposed by Archbishop Paul Cremona is one based on dialogue and respect for the distinctions between Church and state. What will be the main characteristics of the strategy developed by Bishop Grech?
Despite the declining church attendances and a less influential Church, many, including non-practising Catholics, even if for their own reasons, look up to what the Bishops have to say on modern, every-day life. They should not be let down.

Also see: Bishop’s homily at the Pontifical Mass, Għarb