Pope Francis will make an Apostolic visit to Malta and Gozo on May 31.
The announced was make in a communiqué by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni which reads “Welcoming the invitation of the President of the Republic of Malta, the Authorities and the Catholic Church of the Country, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Malta and Gozo on 31 May 2020.
The logo for the journey shows the hands that are directed towards the Cross, coming from a ship at the mercy of the waves. The hands represent a sign of welcome of the Christian towards his neighbour and assistance to those who are in difficulty, abandoned to their fate.
The boat recalls the dramatic story of the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul on the island of Malta (cf. Acts 27:27-44) and the welcome given by the Maltese to the Apostle and those who were shipwrecked. (cf. Acts 28:1-10) St Paul landing on Malta was also the subject of Pope Francis’ catechesis’ during recent Wednesday audiences. The motto of the apostolic journey is “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2).
Two previous Popes have made apostolic visits to Malta: St. John Paul II from 25 to 27 May 1990 and Pope Benedict XVI on 17 and 18 April 2010.
The current Archbishop of Malta is Charles Scicluna who is also Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The program of the trip will be published in due course.
Pope’s Malta visit a commitment to migrants and healing wounds – Archbishop Scicluna
The announcement of the visit of Pope Francis to Malta in May this year has been received with enthusiasm by its archbishop, the government and the people.
In a video message, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta spoke about the generosity with which Paul and his shipwrecked companions were received by the islanders.
“I would like to welcome His Holiness to the island of St. Paul and also thank him for the beautiful meditations he gave us in January of 2020, on this important passage from Scripture,” Archbishop Scicluna said.
The motto, he explained, 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.”
Despite being “a tall order for a small nation,” the archbishop said they will make use of the visit “to heal the wounds that have wounded our social fabric.”
They would also commit themselves to be a “safe haven” for Migrants in the Mediterranean. “Malat,” from which Malta derives its name, Archbishop Scicluna explained, meant safe haven in the culture and language of the ancient sea-faring Phoenician people.
“That is what we need to be in the name of Jesus Christ,” the archbishop said.
Not long after the Vatican announcement, President Vella announced the papal visit at the end of a Mass at the Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck in the Maltese capital, Valletta.
Among those attending the Mass were Miriam Vella, the president’s wife, Jose Herrera, Secretary for Culture and Local Government who represented the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the Mayor of Valletta and other dignitaries. Vella’s announcement was greeted with hearty applause.
The upcoming visit of Pope Francis will be the 4th papal visit to Malta. St. Pope John Paul II visited the Mediterranean island twice, in 1990 and 2001. Pope Benedict XVI visited Malta in 2010.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the Pope’s visit is a reminder that despite its small size, Malta still enjoys the respect of world leaders.
He noted that helping the community, tolerance and civil rights, which are issues close to the Pope’s heart, are also the values of the government.
Vatican News – Pope to visit Malta in May
Vatican News and Robin Gomes – Pope’s Malta visit a commitment to migrants and healing wounds – Archbishop Scicluna