Archbishop Michael Gonzi +

Deceased

Archbishop Emeritus of Malta

 

 


Events

Date Age Event Title
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

 
  • a priest for 75.1 years
  • a bishop for 59.5 years
  • Principal Consecrator:
  • Principal Co-Consecrators:
    • Bishop Ioannes Maria Camilleri, O.S.A. +
    • Bishop Angelo Portelli, O.P. +
Episcopal Lineage / Apostolic Succession:
  • Archbishop Michael Gonzi + (1924)
  • Archbishop Mauro Caruana, O.S.B. + (1915)
  • Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val y Zulueta + (1900)
  • Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro + (1882)
  • Edward Henry Cardinal Howard + (1872)
  • Carlo Cardinal Sacconi + (1851)
  • Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni + (1822)
  • Pietro Francesco Cardinal Galeffi + (1819)
  • Alessandro Cardinal Mattei + (1777)
  • Bernardino Cardinal Giraud + (1767)
  • Pope Carlo della Torre Rezzonico + (1743)
  • Pope Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini + (1724)
  • Pope Pietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P. + (1675)
  • Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni + (1666)
  • Ulderico Cardinal Carpegna + (1630)
  • Luigi Cardinal Caetani + (1622)
  • Ludovico Cardinal Ludovisi + (1621)
  • Archbishop Galeazzo Sanvitale + (1604)
  • Girolamo Cardinal Bernerio, O.P. + (1586)
  • Giulio Antonio Cardinal Santorio + (1566)
  • Scipione Cardinal Rebiba +

 

Biography

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.

Controversies

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.

 

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