“Don’t try to stop change, this is part of your vocation”, the new pro-secretary general of the Vatican Synod of Bishops, Mario Grech, has told a group of Maltese Catholics.
Driving the news
“Nowadays people live their faith differently from the older generations”, Grech wrote in a message to the Catholic Action movement in Gozo, on the occasion of its General Assembly.
He explained that while there may be a “gulf” between how previous generations lived the faith and how the younger generations live it today, that doesn’t mean young people today are necessarily less Catholic.
Grech mentioned the example of the għonnella – a traditional Maltese headdress and shawl – and said young people “would be killing faith rather than reviving it” were they to wear it today.
The bishop is currently in Rome, participating in the Synod for the Amazon.
Before his appointment as pro-secretary general of the Synod of Bishops October 2, Grech was the Bishop of Gozo, the diocese in which he is continuing for the time being in the capacity of apostolic administrator.
Grech began his message to Catholic Action in Gozo reflecting on Jesus’ question in the Gospels: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Many would be tempted to answer in the negative, the bishop admitted, citing the evident signs of Christian decline today.
Grech admitted that times have changed and “the time has passed when the Church was like the ‘regulator’ of everything done in the family and society”.
But Nietzsche’s diagnosis that “God is dead”, as well as warnings about the “eclipse of the sacred”, are all exaggerated, Grech said.
The bishop cited British-born US scholar of religions Philip Jenkins, whose studies have shown that far from declining “in Europe the Christian faith is evolving, changing and taking a new shape, under the circumstances and new situations of our time”.
Having said that, Grech was careful to point out that “while the Christian culture is changing, the truth contained in the Gospel remains the same”.
Why it matters
Grech explained in his message to Catholic Action that people can still be Christians through their actions and values despite not ever going to church or understanding the Eucharist.
“The flame has been reduced to cinders; however given enough space, they could be sparked to burn again”, the bishop added with respect to secularisation in society.
The bishop encouraged members of Catholic Action “not to be afraid of change” and to “welcome with joy” the “transition” to a new culture, at the risk of “no longer being relevant” to people today.
Grech concluded his message inviting Catholics to pray to the Holy Spirit to understand the signs of our times and to recognise the “anonymous Christians” who are present among them.