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GOZO, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) - A pro-gay bishop from Malta has been appointed to a position at the Vatican.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis appointed Bp. Mario Grech of the Gozo diocese in Malta to be the general pro-secretary of the Synod of Bishops. This means Grech will later become the general secretary per se after Cdl. Lorenzo Baldisseri's term comes to an end — according to a press statement from Cdl. Baldisseri.
Cardinal Baldisseri announced that Bp. Grech would "walk alongside" him and participate as a member in the Amazon Synod.
Bishop Grech will stay on as apostolic administrator in the Gozo diocese until his successor is appointed.
The Maltese bishop has a history of pro-gay messaging. In a speech to the 2014 Synod on the Family, Bp. Grech claimed that the Catechism's language on homosexuality is hurtful to homosexuals.
After saying that modern families find themselves "having to live in a framework which renders incomprehensible the very concepts of natural law," he went on to argue:
We need to know our families very well if we are to offer them the Gospel in a practical way. A good point of departure would be in our choice of language — may it be the language of a Church that is both merciful and brings healing. I must confess to facing the urgency of this need while listening to families of homosexuals as well as to the same persons having such an orientation and who feel wounded by the language directed towards them in certain texts, for instance in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997 edition, §2358); these persons consequently struggle both with maintaining their faith alive as well as cultivating their sense of filial belonging to the Church. It is necessary to learn to speak that language which is known to contemporary human beings and who acknowledge it as a way of conveying the truth and the charity of the Gospel.
During a televised interview in March 2018, Grech said he welcomed gay unions "with satisfaction," arguing that homosexual partners "have the right not to be judged."
On social media Wednesday, Catholic journalist Edward Pentin commented on Bp. Grech's appointment, "Grech wrote the contentious Maltese bishops' guidelines on chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia."
Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, Malta, to be appointed pro-general secretary of Synod of Bishops, soon to succeed Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri as general secretary. +Grech wrote the contentious Maltese bishops' guidelines on Chapter 8 of #AmorisLaetitia https://t.co/A4J46it73G— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) October 2, 2019
In January 2017, Bp. Grech and the Malta archdiocese's Abp. Charles Scicluna co-published a set of guidelines for implementing the controversial papal document Amoris Laetitia. The guidelines stated, "If ... a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages ... to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist."
Church Militant reported at the time that Bp. Grech threatened to punish clergy in his diocese if they refused to give Holy Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried.
In a subsequent report, an anonymous Maltese confirmed with Church Militant that Bp. Grech had threatened to punish a priest who voiced concern about the guidelines regarding Holy Communion for the civilly remarried.
The Times of Malta interviewed Bp. Grech in December 2015. On the question of a Catholic getting a divorce, the bishop replied, "Life is not black or white — there are also a lot of shades in between. What makes a good Christian? Perfection? If this were the case it would probably be beyond everybody's reach."
"We are not a Church for perfect people," he added, "even though we have been brought up with the idea that there is only room for saints within the Church."
Grech said later in the interview, "The Church cannot refuse to administer communion to somebody who genuinely wishes to receive it and is trying to live in forgiveness, regardless of whether they are divorced or not. This could be the first step of a longer journey towards God, and the Church must not hinder such a process."
A September 2015 report in Malta Today stated there have been complaints that Bp. Grech is a "bully" and "aggressive" to clergy in his diocese.
The report highlighted an alleged letter that was sent to Vatican officials such as Cdl. Reinhard Marx back in 2014, when the archdiocese of Malta needed a new archbishop and the Vatican was allegedly eyeing Bp. Grech for the position.
In that letter, clergy of the diocese voiced complaints about Bp. Grech's leadership. They warned of a "hostile," "aggressive" attitude and a "bullying culture" — even calling the bishop himself a "bully."
The letter also accused Bp. Grech of "bad pastoral decisions" and "a manifest attachment to material wealth."
"The Church in Gozo has been run for the last nine years by a 'grin of a Cheshire cat,'" the clergy's letter concluded. "It would be a sheer disaster if Bishop Grech were appointed archbishop. He is utterly unfit to lead the Metropolitan See. The Maltese Church requires a robust leader."
Malta Today noted that Bp. Grech was not appointed to the Malta archdiocese; rather, then-auxiliary bishop Charles Scicluna was appointed archbishop of Malta in 2015.