In a veiled reference to the choice Catholics will have to make in the divorce referendum, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has warned that those who do not follow Christ’s teachings should not receive the Eucharist.
In a homily on Sunday at the St George’s parish church in Victoria where teenagers received the sacrament of confirmation, Mgr Grech spoke about the sacraments and directly referred to marriage on more than one occasion.
In what was possibly the closest reference to the impending divorce referendum, Mgr Grech said: “If we want to find the right door, shortly... and adults, understand what I am trying to say... do not make a mistake, there is only one door.”
When contacted yesterday to clarify what he meant, Mgr Grech insisted he had nothing to add to his homily. He refused to take any questions and asked The Times to reproduce the homily instead.
Asked whether Catholics who vote in favour of divorce in the referendum should be refused Holy Communion, Mgr Grech reiterated he had nothing to add.
In his homily, Mgr Grech warned the faithful of “brigands”, who, he said, were trying to lead Christ’s flock astray. “They are going after marriage and then other things will follow,” he cautioned the congregation.
In an obvious reference to the recently set up Catholic pro-divorce group, the Bishop urged people to “beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
“And the wolf is now saying he is Catholic. This is a falsity, this is deceit. I am ready to dialogue with everyone but do not be false, do not lie. You cannot not be loyal to Christ and say you are a Christian or a Catholic.”
It was at this point that Mgr Grech made it clear to those present that people who did not follow Christ’s teachings could not expect to receive the Eucharist.
Addressing the adolescents receiving the sacrament of confirmation, Mgr Grech first augured they kept their promise to follow Christ, unlike adults who made promises they did not keep. “Adults make certain promises that turn out to be empty words, so much so there are those who want to strip marriage of its commitment,” he said.
Mgr Grech also spoke of his frustration of leading a flock that professed Christ as its shepherd but ignored his teachings in everyday life, insisting the Church had to be more vigilant when administering the sacrament of marriage.
“What is the use of having a beautiful congregation but in everyday life Christ is not our shepherd. This confuses me because it makes me ask myself what is the scope of being a bishop of this Church.”
The Catholic pro-divorce group reiterated yesterday that although they held Christ’s teachings on marriage in high esteem they could not impose their beliefs on the rest of the people.
“Irrespective of how strongly we believe that divorce is bad for the country, we can never sideline the principle taught by Christ and expect others who do not share our faith to submit to our beliefs,” a group spokesman said.
The group said it was every Catholic’s duty to vote yes in the referendum because the issue at stake was whether what Catholics believed was right and wrong should be imposed by the state on everybody else. “We believe there should never be imposition...” the spokesman said.
Mgr Grech’s homily led to a barrage of comments on timesofmalta.com, pushing the story into the top place of the Most Discussed list.
Quotes from the homily
Excerpts of Bishop Mario Grech’s homily in which he refers directly to marriage.
• “I augur that yours is not an empty promise... adults make certain promises that turn out to be empty words, so much so that there are those who want to strip marriage of its commitment.”
• “We have a lot of nice doors but when you knock on them they are not the door to life but doors that lead to destruction. The door of life is one... If we want to find the right door shortly... and adults understand what I am trying to say... do not make a mistake, there is only one door...”
• “... to be politically correct and not tell things as they are will lead us to be sorry. There are the brigands among us who are utilising every means possible to lead the flock astray. They are going after marriage and then other things will follow.”
• “We (the Church) should be more responsible in the way we administer the sacrament of marriage. Everybody has a right to get married but not everyone has the right to receive the sacrament of marriage...”
• “Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. And the wolf is now saying he is Catholic. This is a falsity, this is deceit. I am ready to dialogue with everyone but do not be false, do not lie. You cannot not be loyal to Christ and say you are a Christian or a Catholic. If you are not in communion with Christ’s teachings, you are not in communion with the Church and you cannot receive communion... we cannot pretend to be in communion with the Eucharist, so that everybody can understand me.”
Mgr Grech’s full homily can be heard on: http://lbv104.com/podcasts/Quddies%20u%20Features/