.- A Vatican official responsible for pontifical visits will travel to Malta in October to consider a visit by Pope Benedict XVI in April 2010, the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island.
Tradition holds the shipwreck to have taken place in 60 AD. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke writes that the inhabitants treated him and St. Paul with “unusual kindness.”
The event is of particular importance to Malta, where large celebrations were held in 1960 to commemorate its anniversary.
The bishops of Malta and Malta’s President have invited Pope Benedict to visit the island. The bishops have encouraged the faithful to pray that the Maltese islands be blessed with a visit by the Pope, a statement from the Archdiocese of Malta says.
Pope John Paul II visited Malta in May 1990 and again in May 2001.
For last year’s Year of Saint Paul the dioceses of Malta and Gozo organized various initiatives encouraging the faithful to reflect upon St. Paul. At the end of the Pauline Year, Pope Benedict sent Cardinal Ennio Antonelli as his delegate to Malta to preside over the Eucharistic celebration held outside St. John’s Co-Cathedral.
The present U.S. Ambassador to Malta is Doug W. Kmiec, a Catholic who was the center of controversy in the 2008 presidential election because of his support for the pro-abortion rights Democrat Barack Obama, the current U.S. president.