Pope Francis Makes An Apostolic Visit to Malta, April 2-3, 2022

April 28, 2022
Source: fsspx.news
Pope Francis in the cave of Rabat where St. Paul found refuge

On February 10, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, announced: “Accepting the invitation of the President of the Republic of Malta, the civil authorities and the Catholic Church of the country, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Malta from 2 to 3 April 2022, visiting the cities of Valletta, Rabat, Floriana and the island of Gozo.” This state of 316 km2 is an archipelago of eight islands, four of which are inhabited, where 85% of the population is Catholic.

The capital, Valletta, is on the island of Malta. The pope visited Valletta, Rabat, Floriana, as well as the island of Gozo and Hal Far. On arrival at Malta airport, he used an elevator to get off the plane. On the airport tarmac, he showed difficulty walking.

Before the authorities and the diplomatic corps, Pope Francis gave his first speech at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta. In this country where corruption is rife, the sovereign pontiff state the need “to shore up the foundations of life in society, which rests on law and legality. Honesty, justice, a sense of duty and transparency are the essential pillars of a mature civil society,” they make it possible to “eradicate corruption and criminality.”

Francis also called for keeping safe the land of Malta “from rapacious greed, from avarice and from construction speculation, which compromises not only the landscape but the very future.” He called for fighting for “protection of the environment and the promotion of social justice,” which, according to him, “are optimal way to instill in young people a passion for healthy politics and to shield them from the temptation to indifference and lack of commitment.”

Returning once again to the “migratory phenomenon which marks our time,” the pope specified “it brings with it the burden of past injustice, exploitation, climate changes, and tragic conflicts.” In response, “the Mediterranean needs co-responsibility on the part of Europe, in order to becomes a new theater of solidarity and not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilization.”

Now, in his state of shipwreck, St. Paul “was a man in need of assistance,” and “today, when those who cross the Mediterranean in search of salvation are met with fear and the narrative of ‘invasion,’… Other people are not a virus from which we need to be protected, but persons to be accepted,” urged the Holy Father, “May we not allow indifference to stifle our dream of living as one!” he mentioned once again.

On this recurring subject from the mouth of the pope, see Nouvelles de Chrétienté: Special file “Pope Francis and migrants” (no. 169, January-February 2018).

On the afternoon of this Saturday, April 2, Pope Francis traveled to the island of Gozo to pray at the sanctuary of Ta' Pinu. There was a small chapel in this place housing a painting of the Virgin where, on June 22, 1883, a young widow, Carmela Grima, heard a voice asking her to recite three Ave Marias, one for each day during which Jesus remained in the tomb. Since then, Ta' Pinu has become a place of pilgrimage, and a new church has been erected.

During the prayer vigil, organized in front of 3,000 faithful, Francis denounced the decline of faith in this country where Catholicism is the state religion. “The crisis of faith, apathy in religious practice, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, the indifference shown by many young people towards the presence of God: these are not issues that we should “sugarcoat,” thinking that, all things considered, a certain religious spirit still endures, no.”

“At times, structures can be religious, but beneath outward appearances, faith is fading. An elegant repertoire of religious traditions does not always correspond to a vibrant faith marked by zeal for evangelization. We need to ensure that religious practices do not get reduced to relics from the past, but remain the expression of a living, open faith that spreads the joy of the Gospel, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize.”

Addressing the Maltese Church, evangelized by the Apostle Paul, Pope Francis appealed to the Synod and its process of renewal: “To be a Church centered on witness, and not certain religious customs. To be a Church that seeks to go out to meet everyone with the burning lamp of the Gospel, not to be a closed circle. Do not be afraid to set out, as you have already done, on new paths, perhaps even risky paths, of evangelization and proclamation that change lives, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize.”

He then urged the Maltese to develop hospitality, stating, “Jesus’ words from the cross, spoken to his Mother and to John, summon us to make welcome the hallmark of our discipleship.”

“Brothers and sisters, be a ‘synod,’ in other words, ‘journey together.’ For God is present wherever love reigns! … This is the Gospel we are called to put into practice: welcoming others, being ‘experts in humanity,’ and kindling fires of tender love... – As usual, the Muslim religion of the majority of migrants “to be welcomed” hardly merits Francis’ attention.

On Sunday April 3, the Holy Father went to pray in Rabat in the cave where the apostle Saint Paul found refuge after his shipwreck on the island. In his prayer, he implored God to help us recognize from afar the needs of those struggling in the midst of the waves of the sea.

The sovereign pontiff then joined Floriana, at the gates of Valletta, to celebrate Mass there before nearly 20,000 faithful including Filipinos, Indians, families, and retirees; 200 priests were present.

In his homily, he denounced the accusers of the adulterous woman: “these Gospel personages remind us that at any time our individual and communal religiosity can conceal the worm of hypocrisy and the urge to point the finger  at others. We can always run the risk of failing to understand Jesus, of having His name on our lips but denying Him by the way that we live. Even as we raise banners displaying the cross.”

He went on to castigate those whose “outward appearance was impeccable, yet they lacked the truth of the heart. They represent those believer who in every age make faith part of their façade; they present an impressive and solemn exterior, yet they lack interior poverty, the greatest treasure of the human heart.”

Pope Francis asked the Maltese faithful to keep in mind that God “always leaves room for a second chance; He can always find paths that lead to liberation and salvation. … There is no sin or failure that we can bring before Him that cannot become the opportunity for starting to live a new and different life under the banner of mercy. There is no sin that cannot be treated in this manner. God forgives everything. He forgives every sin,” he articulated.

The pope finally went to a center for migrants, the last stage of his trip to Malta. Starting with a quotation from the Acts of the Apostles concerning the welcome given by the Maltese to St. Paul and his shipwrecked companions: “We are told that they were treated with ‘unusual kindness,’” (Acts 28:2). Francis wanted to “express a dream of my own: that you, who are migrants, after having received a welcome rich in human kindness and fraternity, will become in turn witnesses and agents of welcome and fraternity.”

He added, “I believe it is most important that in today's world migrants become witnesses of those human values ​​essential for a dignified and fraternal life.” And he concluded: “This is the way! The way of fraternity and social friendship. Here is the future of the human family in a globalized world.”