Archbishop Michael Gonzi +
Archbishop Emeritus of Malta
|13 May 1885||Born||Vittoriosa|
|19 Dec 1908||23.6||Ordained Priest||Priest|
|13 Jun 1924||39.1||Appointed||Bishop of Gozo, Malta|
|20 Jul 1924||39.2||Ordained Bishop||Bishop of Gozo, Malta|
|10 Aug 1924||39.2||Installed||Bishop of Gozo, Malta|
|14 Oct 1943||58.4||Appointed||Coadjutor Bishop of Malta|
|14 Oct 1943||58.4||Appointed||Titular Bishop of Lyrbe|
|17 Dec 1943||58.6||Succeeded||Bishop of Malta|
|1 Jan 1944||58.6||Appointed||Archbishop of Malta|
|30 Nov 1976||91.5||Retired||Archbishop of Malta|
|22 Jan 1984||98.7||Died||Archbishop Emeritus of Malta|
|Episcopal Lineage / Apostolic Succession:
He was born in Vittoriosa,
Birgu, Malta, and ordained to the priesthood in 1908. In 1924 he was ordained as
the 5th Bishop of Gozo. He remained as Bishop of Gozo till 1943 when Bishop
Joseph Pace was ordained. On 14 October 1943 he became coadjutor bishop of Malta
and Titular Bishop of Lyrbe.
Two months later,
after the death of Bishop Caruana,
on 17 December Michael Gonzi became Bishop of Malta.
In 1944 the Diocese of Malta was elevated to an Archdiocese
and he became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Malta.
He was succeeded by Bishop
Joseph Mercieca following retirement in 1976.
He died, aged 98, on 22 January
1984 at St Luke's Hospital.
Archbishop Michael Gonzi,
interdicted those who favoured the opinions of the Malta Labour Party. Their
burial had to be done in unconsecrated ground, called Il-Miżbla. This was
due to widespread international fear that the Labour Party of Malta was becoming
a Communist Party. Labour leader Dom Mintoff nevertheless continued his
relationship with the socialist AAPSO. The Maltese church decree was issued on
17 March 1961. Reading newspapers of the Malta Labour Party and attendance in
the Malta Labour Party mass meetings was declared a sin. Young men seeking
employment had to obtain a letter of recommendation from the village priest.
Failure to do so meant perpetual unemployment. Thousands emigrated to
Australia , Canada and the
United States . Among those
who were buried on unconsecrated ground was Labour deputy leader and prominent
novelist Guze Ellul Mercer
To stir more ire, Dom Mintoff
then began declaring that "Ġesu Kristu hu l-akbar soċjalista"
(Jesus Christ is the biggest socialist); Gonzi's supporters retorted "Jew
ma' l-isqof jew max-xitan" (Either with the bishop, or with the devil).
Honours and Title
Gonzi was created a KBE,
entitling him to be known as Sir Michael Gonzi, in the 1946 New Year's honours.
In 1949, on the occasion of the silver jubliee of his consecration as Bishop,
Pope Pius XII made him assistant at the Papal Throne; in the same year he was
conferred the degree of LL.D (Honoris Causa) by the University of Malta, and
created Baliff Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
In 1949, Gonzi was bestowed the honour of Papal Count for his works on behalf of the Papacy. The title was conferred by Pope Pius XII. Gonzi was instrumental in helping families without decent dwellings to find good houses and in fact was instrumental in the construction of at least 12 dwellings in Kalkara by the friends of Malta GC. He was also the motor behind the construction of many churches especially the one in Kalkara . The Village of Kalkara was close to Mgr Gonzi's heart as it was here that he was brought up. In 1963 Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain conferred on Gonzi the title of Grand Cross of the Order of St Raimond de Penafort. He was also appointed Commander of the Holy Sepulchre in 1965.