Sharing in shepherding mission
The Episcopal Ordination of a new Auxiliary Bishop brings great joy to the Archdiocese of Malta.
On November 29, 2011, we were deeply shocked by the sudden death of Auxiliary Bishop Mgr Annetto Depasquale, a loyal servant of the Church.
We lost a faithful son of the Church, as well as an indefatigable shepherd and assistant to Archbishop Joseph Mercieca, and since 2007, to Archbishop Paul Cremona.
Nearly one year later to the day, our sorrow is turned into joy as we welcome, with open hearts, the new Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Charles Scicluna.
The role of auxiliary bishops in dioceses all over the world is focused on the assistance and advice they offer to their respective diocesan bishop or archbishop, by sharing in the shepherding mission of a diocese.
I am sure Bishop Scicluna will be offering his precious assistance and expertise on Church matters to Archbishop Cremona. It was striking, as well as poignant, that in his first words to journalists when he returned to Malta from Rome, a few days after he was nominated by Pope Benedict XVI, Mgr Scicluna said he was offering his life to the Church in Malta.
That is what every bishop and priest is expected to do, as he follows the example of the Good Shepherd who gives up his life for his flock.
I have known Mgr Scicluna from the days when I worked in the Vatican, in the Secretariat of State. He first worked for seven years in the highest court of the Church, the Apostolic Signatura, and for the last 10 years he was the Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I happily recall he was present at my Episcopal ordination in St Peter’s Basilica on September 29, 2007.
During these five years as Apostolic Nuncio in Malta, I have had several occasions where I met Mgr Scicluna, particularly when he regularly paid me a courtesy visit, each time he was visiting Malta.
Auxiliary Bishop Scicluna brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Universal Church.
Besides his pastoral experience when he worked in Malta until 1995, he was never distant from pastoral life, both in Rome and whenever he came to Malta for his holidays.
He has been aptly described as the humane canon lawyer with great listening skills and a down-to-earth approach to a whole range of matters, which have reached his desk in the Vatican, especially in the last years.
I hope and pray that Bishop Scicluna will be a valuable instrument for the Church. I am sure that, like Archbishop Cremona and the other bishops who have served, or are serving the Church in these islands, Bishop Scicluna will be both a man of God and a man of the people.
This is his mission, a mission he will, I am sure, carry out with fidelity and in the service of the truth, as his episcopal motto, fidelis et verax, appropriately affirms.