Calm Amidst the Storms: The Church’s Radical Reform Series

16 Jun 2022

By Contributor

By Christopher Lamb

Christopher Lamb and Cardinal Mario Grech
The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb with Cardinal Mario Grech. Photo: Christopher Lamb/Facebook.

Cardinal Mario Grech is the man Pope Francis has placed in charge of the worldwide 2023 Synod of Bishops.

In his latest podcast, The Tablet Correspondent Christopher Lamb talks to Cardinal Grech about the tensions that have been unleashed by the process.

The Synod, says Lamb, was never going to be plain sailing and disagreement among bishops about the direction of the Church has now spilt out into the open in ways not seen for centuries.

The German synodal process, which is focussing on Catholic sexual teaching, the use of power and the role of women, has been the target of heavy criticism by a number of bishops who believe it is on the path to schism.

Cardinal Mario Grech of Malta arrives for a consistory in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this 28 November 2020, file photo. Cardinal Grech told reporters that a synodal process is not a competition but an exercise of listening to the Holy Spirit. Photo: CNS/Fabio Frustaci/pool via Reuters.

On the other hand, synod reflections in Catholic communities across the world have seen repeated calls for the Church to re-imagine its pastoral priorities and tackle these contested issues.

But, says Lamb, the Maltese Cardinal was remarkably calm and upbeat during their conversations.

He sees the synod as offering a space for disagreements to be aired, where nothing is swept under the carpet and no one is excluded.

The task of the Church, he stressed, is to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say at this moment in history.

“Nothing really worries me in so far that we respect the fundamental principles of the Catholic Church,” he tells me.

“Synodality offers that space where we can share our fears and our joys, our certainties and our doubts, our dreams.

“Obviously, there are dreams that can be realised, others that cannot. There are dreams that can be realised tomorrow, others need more time.”

What really hurts him, explains Lamb, are those who see this as simply a project of the Francis pontificate which can soon be forgotten.

No, Cardinal Grech insists, the synod is “laying the foundations of the Church for tomorrow.”

Pope Francis speaks as Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, looks on during a meeting with representatives of bishops’ conferences from around the world at the Vatican in this 9 October 2021 file photo. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring.

Producers: Silvia Sacco and Jamie Weston

CLICK HERE to listen via Apple Podcasts