Official: Pope Francis to visit Malta on May 31st

epa07975761 Pope Francis kisses a child during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, 06 November 2019. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

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Pope Francis will be visiting Malta on May 31st. The President and the Archbishop of Malta read the announcement made by the Vatican where the Pope announced that he accepted the invitation by the country’s and church authorities to make an apostolic visit to Malta.

The President of Malta said that he augurs the visit will bring God’s blessing on the island and helps for unity amongst its people, which recently witnessed a series of political crises.

The theme of the visit is to be based on the Acts of the Apostles Chapter’ 28 verse 2, which states that “the inhabitants treated us with unusual kindness”, with reference to the shipwreck of St. Paul on the Maltese islands in AD 60 and which the Maltese celebrate today, February 10th.

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Archbishop Scicluna extended not only a warm welcome to Pope Francis but also expressed his wish that the visit will be a healing time  for the wounds which have afflicted the country. This is the text of the message.

“’They showed us unusual kindness’ These are the words from Chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles, verse 2, that have been chosen as the motto for the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the islands of Malta and Gozo on the Day of Pentecost, 31st May 2020. In this hallowed place, the cave where tradition tells us Paul stayed on the island of Malta for three months in AD 60, I would like to welcome His Holiness to the Islands of St Paul and also thank him for the beautiful meditations he gave us in January of 2020 on this important passage from Scripture. He reminded us of our heritage of a welcoming people who welcomed the Apostle Paul and 275 people to gather with him, who were shipwrecked on the shores of these islands. 

“But this is also a reminder that we need to welcome each other, to forgive each other and to welcome migrants who knock on the shores of our islands seeking a safe haven and human dignity. This is a tall order for a small nation but we will also take the opportunity of the visit of Pope Francis to heal wounds that have wounded our social fabric, but also commit ourselves to be that safe haven in the Mediterranean that gave the name to our islands. ‘Malat’ in the Phoenician heritage meant safe haven. That is what we need to be in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Earlier this year, Pope Francis urged men and women of goodwill to promote and practice a culture of welcome, especially towards vulnerable migrants in search of a better life. He decried recent government policies that have seen migrant ships in the Mediterranean be denied access to a safe port. Referring to St. Paul’s shipwreck, Pope Francis referred to the passage in the Acts of the Apostles in which St Paul is shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The Pope compared St Paul and his companions to the migrants of today. The hospitality they received from the people of Malta, said the Pope, reflects the love of God.

Pope Francis visit will be the fourth papal visit in 30 years. St John Paul II visited Malta twice, in 1990 and in 2001, when he beatified Dun Ġorġ Preca, Sr Adeodata Pisani and Blessed Nazju Falzon. Pope Benedict XVI, visited Malta in 2010.

Malta’s Church leaders are also amongst the most trusted individuals by Pope Francis.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna is Pope Francis special envoy and as the Washington Post describes him the Vatican’s emergency investigator — a priest-and-lawyer-turned-sex-crimes specialist who is dispatched to scandal zones. “He is sent to places where cardinals or bishops are accused of committing abuse; where officials are suspected of burying evidence or systematically ignoring victims; where the church has profoundly failed and squandered trust”, Washington Post says.

Over the past decade-and-a-half, he has led at least four major investigations on four separate continents, interviewing hundreds of victims, during feverish days he likens to an “ant working in summer.”

Earlier last year, Bishop Grech was appointed to be General Pro-Secretary from August when the term of the current Secretary Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri ends.

In October, Newsbook reported that Pope Francis himself contacted Bishop Mario Grech about the new post probably when Bishop Grech was on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The Pope himself during a meeting, held recently at the Vatican, asked Bishop Grech to take on the post of General Pro-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, which periodically meets at the Vatican. Bishop Grech met the Pope again late last week to confirm his acceptance.

Via Newsbook / Washington Post 

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