Report: Pope Francis plans 2-day visit to Malta in April

Pope Francis during the weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall at Vatican City, January 26, 2022. Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI Hall on Jan. 26, 2022. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis intends to make a two-day visit to Malta in April, according to a local newspaper.

The Times of Malta reported on Jan. 25 that the Vatican had informed the government and Church leaders that the pope would visit the country on April 2-3.

The Vatican has not confirmed the report.

The pope initially planned to visit the archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2020, the Solemnity of Pentecost. But the Vatican announced in March 2020 that the trip had been “postponed until further notice.”

The Times of Malta said that Malta’s President George Vella and Prime Minister Robert Abela had accepted the dates of the April visit.

Malta, located south of the Italian island of Sicily, is named in the Acts of the Apostles as the site where St. Paul was shipwrecked on route to Rome in 60 A.D.

In a pastoral letter anticipating the pope’s scheduled 2020 visit, Malta’s bishops said that the theme of the trip would be “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2).

They said that the pope would meet with the people of the island of Malta and residents of Gozo, the second-largest island in the archipelago, as well as migrants.

“In his short but meaningful visit to Malta, Pope Francis will celebrate and pray with the Maltese and Gozitan people,” the bishops wrote.

“He will show us how, purified by the Spirit of God who cleanses us from our sins, we can live in true reconciliation together and treat each other with dignity and ‘unusual kindness.’”

An overwhelming majority of Malta’s roughly half a million population are baptized Catholics. Catholicism is the state religion under the Constitution of Malta.

The country’s leading Catholic figure is Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the archbishop of Malta since 2015 and the adjunct secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2018.

John Paul II became the first pope to visit Malta in 1990. He visited again in 2001.

The most recent papal visit, by Benedict XVI, took place on April 17-18, 2010.

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