Pope Benedict XVI met Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P. and Bishop Mario Grech during a private audience on the first day of the ad Limina visit with respect to the diocese of Malta and the diocese of Gozo.  This meeting was held last Monday in the Pope’s study at the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican.

In his initial comments to the media, Archbishop Cremona said that he spoke to the Pope about the family and the up-bringing of children, and the necessity of the transmission of faith from one generation to another as an integral part of family life.  Another theme which was discussed was the Year of the Faith.  The Archbishop  informed the Pope that the Diocese will be taking several initiatives in order to encourage the Maltese to practice their faith. He told the Pope that his pastoral visit in April 2010 served as such a means of encouragement: this comment brought a smile to the Pope’s face as he remembered his visit to Malta.

During another audience, the Pope welcomed Bishop Mario Grech.  Bishop Grech commented on the Pope’s appreciation towards the Christian way of life in the Diocese. He stated that the Pope spoke very positively with respect to Maltese families, saying that it within these families that children are offered a Christian formation from an early age.  The Pope also expressed his appreciation for the work which the Maltese clergy performs both within the Diocese and abroad.  Another theme which was discussed was the observance of Sunday as a day in which Christians celebrate and participate in the liturgy, a day which serves to unite the whole family.  Referring to this, Bishop Grech informed the Pope of the Consultory for the Family which has been set up in Gozo.

Contrary to the normal procedure for ad Limina visits, during the audiences with the Maltese bishops, the Pope dedicated his time to listening and discussing with the two bishops individually.  The Pope also met with Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Mercieca and presented him and the other bishops with a pectoral cross as a gift on the occasion of this visit.

The ad Limina visit, which is spread over five days, comes to an end on Friday 1st June. Such visits are held regularly in order to enable bishops to present an account of their diocese’s activities.

CLICK HERE to listen to the comments by Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech.

Photos: Curia Communications Office. The photos above are covered by Copyright laws.