Mario Grech, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and the former Bishop of Gozo will be elevated to the rank of Cardinal, the Gozo Diocese has said on Facebook.
“In his mass, Pope Francis just honoured us with the appointment of the first Gozitan Cardinal, Mario Grech, Bishop Emeritus of Gozo and Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Congratulations!”
The post also read that the official appointment for Grech and 12 others will be on 28 November.
Grech had served as Gozo Bishop for 15 years before he was succeeded by Anton Teuma. Grech’s move from Gozo to the Vatican had been announced last year, when Pope Francis had appointed him as Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
Malta has had Cardinals in the past. Cardinal Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata served between 1818 and 1843. He cast his vote in conclave at the Palazzo Quirinale at the election of Pope Leo XII in 1823, again in 1829 at the election of Pope Pius VIII, and of Pope Gregory XVI in 1831. Prospero Grech was also a Maltese Cardinal, but was not able to vote as he was over the age of 80. He died in 2019 at the age of 94.
Grech is aged 63 and thus will be able to vote in conclave.
The President, the government, the Archbishop, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party all congratulated Grech on his nomination.
Grech was one of 13 new cardinals named by Pope Francis.
The others include Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who would become the first Black U.S. prelate to earn the coveted red hat.
In a surprise announcement from his studio window to faithful standing below in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said the churchmen would be elevated to a cardinal’s rank in a ceremony on Nov. 28.
Apart from Grech, other new cardinals include an Italian who is the long-time papal preacher at the Vatican, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan friar; the Kigali, Rwanda, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda; the Capiz, Philippines, Archbishop Jose Feurte Advincula, and the Santiago, Chile, Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco.
Another Franciscan who was tapped is Friar Mauro Gambetti, in charge of the Sacred Convent in Assisi. The pope, when elected in 2013, chose St. Francis of Assisi as his namesake saint. Earlier this month, the pontiff journeyed to that hill town in Umbria to sign an encyclical, or important church teaching document, about brotherhood.
In a reflection of the pope’s stress on helping those in need, Francis also named the former director of the Rome Catholic charity, Caritas, the Rev. Enrico Feroci, to be a cardinal.
Others named cardinals include Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, an Italian serving as prefect of the Vatican office which runs the saint-making process; Bishop Cornelius Sim, a Brunei native who serves as apostolic vicar of Brunei; the Italian archbishop of Siena and nearby towns in Tuscany, Augusto Lojudice; the retired bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel; and an Italian former Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.
Wilton, 73, was picked by Francis to lead the prestigious diocese in the U.S. capital last year. The prelate has his pulse on factions in the U.S. Catholic Church, which has both strong conservative and liberal veins since he served three times as the head of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.
Nine of the new cardinals are younger than 80, and thus eligible to elect the next pontiff in a secret conclave. Some cardinals head powerful Vatican offices, and pontiffs frequently turn to cardinals for advice.
No details were immediately given by the Vatican about the concistory, as the formal ceremony to make the churchmen cardinals is known, especially in view of travel restrictions involving many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As he has in other groups of cardinals he tapped in his papacy, Francis in this selection reflected the global nature of the Catholic Church and his flock of 1.2 billion Catholics.
Churchmen over 80 who are named cardinals are chosen to honor their life of service to the church. Those in this batch too old to vote in a conclave are Cantalamessa, Tomasi, Feroci and Arizmendi Esquivel.
Il-Qdusija Tiegħu l-Papa Franġisku għadu kemm għamlilna unur kbir bil-ħatra tal-ewwel Kardinal Għawdxi fil-persuna…