Update – You are a treasure to the Church – Pope Francis in Maltese island of Gozo

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EPA / Reuters / Vatican News / CDE News – Pope Francis led a prayer meeting outside the Ta’ Pinu shrine in Gozo. During the session the Pope highlighted the importance of faith during difficult times. He also referred to the witness of faith in Gozo stating that it is a treasure of the Church. He said that we need to go back to the core of the church, specifically the meaning of Christianity.

Pope Francis travelled by Catamaran Maria Dolores, operated by Virtu Ferries to the island of Gozo to pray at the Marian shrine of Ta’Pinu, a place of great devotion for the Maltese, recognized and celebrated by several Popes, including Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI.


 Appeal For Honesty, Justice, A Sense Of Duty And Transparency To Ensure A Sound Social Coexistence – Pope Francis

Pope Francis wishes that Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean,  may continue to foster the heartbeat of hope, care for life, acceptance of others and yearning for peace. Delivering his first public discourse on Maltese soil, addressed to the country’s authorities and the diplomatic corps in the capital Valetta, he used the analogy of the compass rose, or “rose of winds” to encourage Malta and Europe on the path of peace, legality, respect for life and human dignity and open itself to people on the move.

The wind that blows from the northwest comes from the European Union, “the single great family united in maintaining peace”.  For peace, which follows unity and rises from it, the Pope said, the Maltese people need to work together strengthening the shared roots and values of their society. Stressing that honesty, justice, a sense of duty and transparency ensure a sound social coexistence, he encouraged the island nation’s commitment to legality and transparency in order to eradicate corruption and criminality.

Pope Francis (L) and Malta’s President George Vella (R) prepare to address the authorities and the diplomatic corps in the Grand Council Chamber of the Grand Master’s presidential Palace in Valletta, Malta, 02 April 2022. EPA-EFE/CIRO FUSCO

The Pope also recalled that the EU, committed to justice and social equality, is also in forefront of efforts to protect the larger home that is God’s creation.  “It must therefore be kept safe from rapacious greed, from avarice and from construction speculation, which compromises not only the landscape but the very future.” 

The protection of the environment and the promotion of social justice, he said, are the best ways to instil in young people a passion for healthy politics and to shield them from the temptation to indifference and lack of commitment.

Speaking about the winds blowing from the west, the Holy Father said that Malta, an EU member, shares western lifestyles and thinking, such as values of freedom and of democracy.  However, one must watch out against detachment from one’s own roots.  “Progress does not mean cutting one’s roots with the past in the name of a false prosperity dictated by profit, by needs created by consumerism, to say nothing of the right to have any and every ‘right’. 

A sound development needs to preserve the memory of the past and foster respect and harmony between the generations, without yielding to bland uniformity and to forms of ideological colonization.”

The Pope further pointed out that the basis of all solid growth is respect for the human person, for the life and dignity of every man and every woman.  He encouraged the commitment of the Maltese people to embracing and protecting life at every moment from its beginning to its natural end.  This also includes the dignity of workers, the elderly and the sick. 

Speaking of young people who follow the emptiness of mirages, he said they squander the goodness in them. These are the fruits of radical consumerism and indifference to the needs of others and the scourge of drugs, which suppresses freedom and creates dependence.

The south wind reminded the Pope about the many brothers and sisters from the poor densely populated south who come to the wealthy north in search of hope.  While thanking Malta for welcoming migrants, he pointed out that migration is not a temporary situation, and brings with it the burden of past injustice, exploitation, climatic changes and tragic conflicts, whose effects are now making themselves felt. 

Migration cannot be ignored by adopting anachronistic isolationism, which will not produce prosperity and integration. The growing migration emergency, which now includes refugees from war-torn Ukraine, he said calls for a broad-based and shared response. The Pope said, “The Mediterranean needs co-responsibility on the part of Europe, in order to become a new theatre of solidarity and not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilization.”

Recalling that St. Paul who was shipwrecked and landed in Malta, was a man in need of assistance, the Holy Father urged all to open their hearts and rediscover the beauty of serving our neighbours in need.  “Other people are not a virus from which we need to be protected, but persons to be accepted. 

Pope Francis for the first time implicitly criticises Putin over Ukraine

Finally, the wind blowing from the east of Europe, the Pope said, reminds us of the dark shadows of war that have now spread.  Without mentioning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats are not grim memories of a distant past. “The icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.  Once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that will either be shared or not be at all.”

In the face of this challenge, the Pope urged all not to allow the dream of peace to fade.” “Malta, which shines brilliantly in the heart of the Mediterranean, can serve as an inspiration to us, for it is urgent to restore beauty to the face of a humanity marred by war”. 

Evoking the image of the ancient beautiful Mediterranean statue of Eirene, holding in her arms Ploutus, wealth, he said it reminds us that peace generates prosperity, and war only poverty.  Noting Eirene holding her child in her arms, he said “the presence of women is the true alternative to the baneful logic of power that leads to war”.  “We need compassion and care, not ideological and populist visions fueled by words of hatred and unconcerned for the concrete life of the people, ordinary people.”

He also recalled noted Italian politician Georgio La Pira who after the devastation of World War II had raised his voice calling for the rule of moderation and universal fraternity against the exaltation of self-interest. “How much we need a “human moderation” before the infantile and destructive aggression that threatens us, before the risk of an “enlarged Cold War” that can stifle the life of entire peoples and generations,” the Pope said.  That “childishness”, the Pope lamented, “has reemerged powerfully in the seductions of autocracy, new forms of imperialism, widespread aggressiveness, and the inability to build bridges and start from the poorest in our midst”. 

A handout picture provided by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis praying aboard the plane on his way to Malta International Airport, ahead of his apostolic visit in Luqa, Malta, 02 April 2022. Pope Francis departs for a two-day trip to Malta. EPA-EFE/VATICAN MEDIA HANDOUT

The Pope lamented great investments in weaponry and a massive trade in arms. The enthusiasm for peace, which emerged after the Second World War, has faded with a few powers seeking spaces and zones of influence.  “In this way,” the Pope warned, “not only peace but also so many great questions, like the fight against hunger and inequality are no longer on the list of the main political agendas.”

The Pope urged the international community to return to international peace conferences, where the theme of disarmament will have a central place, where the enormous funds that continue to be destined to weaponry, may be diverted to development, health care and nutrition.

Looking to the east of Malta, the Pope’s thoughts turned to the Middle East, especially Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, torn by problems and violence. “May Malta, the heart of the Mediterranean, continue to foster the heartbeat of hope, care for life, acceptance of others, yearning for peace, with the help of the God whose name is peace, the Pope urged.

Speech In Italian

Speech by President Vella

I am humbled and fortunate in welcoming you on behalf of the Government and people of Malta. This is a long-awaited visit, which we all have been anxiously waiting for. It comes as a further consolidation of the very close, historic relations between Malta and the Holy See, which over time have gone from strength to strength.

I recall vividly that we had mentioned the possibility of a visit by Your Holiness to Malta as early as September 2019, when you welcomed me at the Vatican and then again when you came to speak to me following the Mass for the repose of the soul of His Eminence Cardinal Prospero Grech in January 2020. On both occasions, I was very touched by your interest in Malta, the regional challenges that surround our islands, and above all, by your personal appreciation of the qualities and values that distinguish us Maltese. The sentiments extolling these same virtues were expressed by Your Holiness in various General Audiences.

So many things have changed since these meetings. The international community was shaken to its core by a pandemic that is still wreaking havoc on our health and economies, and which is teaching us lessons in human solidarity, which we should never forget.

It has taught us that we evidently need to work harder to strengthen global social justice, most importantly the sharing of resources, be they human or material. Huge disparities continue to prevail, not only on the economic level, in the access to basic health and medical needs – starting off with vaccines, but also in relation to employment, education, mobility, human rights, freedom of expression and democracy. We need to think of, and collectively adopt, new and higher standards of global solidarity that do away with individualism, isolation, populism, ostracism, and xenophobia.

A further shock to the international political system, and to all of us individually, came with the horrible and atrocious war in Ukraine. Seventy-five years following World War Two, Europe is tragically witnessing a dreadful war and the spilling of blood on its soil once more.  The indiscriminate attacks on innocent lives, resulting in deaths, uprooting and displacement, are episodes the world believed it would never see again in Europe. This is not because we have forgotten our history.

It is because war and everything connected to it, is unacceptable by modern standards and unthinkable even, in this day and age; even though we have almost become complacent to the long years of war and destruction in Yemen, Rwanda, Syria and other countries around the globe. This war in Ukraine has brought out the worst and the best of humanity. Against a backdrop of unprovoked destruction and desperation, we are seeing unity, we are seeing empathy and also a sense of solidarity amongst nations; something we had not experienced in generations. 

I join Your Holiness, in your consistent and repeated appeals for the immediate cessation of these horrendous attacks as we continue to provide all the required assistance to the most vulnerable victims of this war. We need to reflect on what kind of legacy we want to leave behind us for future generations. Unfortunately, we are all absorbed with war and destruction when our undivided attention should be elsewhere.

Our planet is sick, angry, and tired.

Yet we keep ignoring its manifest signs of environmental degradation, climate change and exploitation of its resources. Are we giving enough attention to the manifest signals that the planet is sending us, or do we need more convincing evidence that both the human and natural environment are increasingly deteriorating at an alarmingly fast pace?

We cannot ignore the fact that the human and natural environment are intrinsically interlinked. A viable and sustainable ecology can only be one that preserves and nurtures the human, social and environmental dimensions. Despite several initiatives, all good intentions and repeated promises, we are a far cry from achieving our environment and development goals. It defies reason why humanity remains intent on destroying or replacing nature’s beauty with its own creations.  Commitments on sustainability are easy to pronounce but difficult to achieve and maintain.

As I have already stated, conflicts prevail and persist all around us in this global village, and we are tempted somehow to turn a blind eye, if not openly justify their existence. The temptation to ignore them or to look elsewhere is very strong. It could be because of our own interests and ambitions; it could be because of the weaknesses in regulatory mechanisms meant to address them at local, regional and international levels; or because of worrying double standards applied discriminately.

The common denominator to all conflicts remains the proliferation and sales of armaments, weapons and ammunition.  This is, as has been repeatedly emphasised by Your Holiness, the bread and butter of the armaments industry, on which thrive whole national economies.

We see this taking place, in our immediate neighbourhood, the Mediterranean, but even further afield in the long-drawn crises of Syria and Yemen, already referred to. In our region, and across the globe, in full agreement with Your Holiness, I would like to see less proliferation of weapons and ammunition, less commercialisation and a cessation to the arms race that only leads to protracted violence, division, humanitarian crises, fleeing from conflict zones, as well as deaths resulting from the inability of food and medicines to arrive at conflict zones.

Rest assured, Holy Father, that Malta will continue to fulfil its principled mission of promoting dialogue and mutual respect between the countries, cultures and religions that make our shared Mediterranean Sea a unique one. 

Building peace is still Malta’s vocation, and we will not relent on our determination to continue working in this direction. We will continue to actively seek a humane, just, and equitable solution to the issue of irregular migration.

We know how deeply you feel about this issue, and we all feel your pain and disillusionment whenever dead bodies are washed on our shores and when migrants arrive in pitiful situations – if they make it at all. Malta has never shied away from its commitments and obligations to save lives. We have done this, and we will continue to do it.

However, considering our size and carrying capacity, we continue to ask for solidarity, from other countries that are not on the frontline, but have the resources, the opportunities and the potential to welcome migrants. Documents, action plans and negotiated policies will lead nowhere unless there is the political will to act and to implement what is agreed upon. In this context, allow me Holy Father, to underline our appreciation of the theme that has been identified to commemorate your visit, ‘They showed us unusual kindness’ lifted from the Acts of the Apostles. 

May I recall the immense work which the Ecclesial community has carried out throughout our history and is still doing throughout its institutions and parishes. This kindness, we will continue to spread and live up to, as a nation, when responding to the suffering of others. We are presently doing this in the actions taken by the Government and people of Malta in support of our Ukrainian brethren, through the provision of humanitarian aid and the attention given to their sick children.

It is not my intention to labour your visit only with these pressing concerns, which we continue to address both as an independent country but also with our partners as active members of the international community. With these problems, I will therefore also dare to mention some possible solutions. I need not search far and long for them.

We can all benefit from the ample wisdom contained in the inspiring writings that Your Holiness imparts with the world on a regular basis. I have in mind documents like Fratelli Tutti, Laudato Sì, and the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, to mention a few. I also find encouragement, indeed solace – when I read your message for the World Peace Day in January of this year with its clear policies for the achievement of peace – decrying war and conflict, individualism, and environmental degradation.

We have to turn the page. We can begin by regaining mutual trust by speaking more to one another. We can start with more inter-generational exchanges and dialogue. We need to fortify the nexus between, education, teaching and peace. And we need to safeguard dignified work as the foundation of justice and solidarity. We should also better value the role of women in all societies and increasingly place our youth at the helm of positive change and at the heart of peaceful co-existence. 

This is a journey we need to walk together.  This is what lies behind your promotion of the concept of Synodality. We need to create and invest our energies in a universal and inclusive process in which everyone’s voice is heard, and in which there is the widest possible participation. 

Above all, Your Holiness, Malta will remain faithful to the pledge of looking after the most vulnerable in our community – those who are alone, those who are weakened by physical and psychological pain, those who feel unwanted, and those who are forced to suffer in silence. Finally, we should above all respect the sanctity of life, from its beginning to its natural end.

Santitá, ġħażiż missierna Franġisku Inroddulek kull ħajr talli ġejt iżżurna, u ntuk l-akbar merħba f’dawn il-gżejjer li tant jgħożżuk. Inwegħduk li permezz tal-miġja tiegħek fostna, ser inkomplu ningħaqdu bejnietna u nħabirku għall-paċi madwarna. Fuq kollox inwegħduk li ser tibqa’ dejjem fi ħsibijitena, u kif dejjem tħeġġiġna nagħmlu, ser inkomplu nitolbu għalik.

Pope Francis Arrives in Malta

Update: – Pope Francis arrived in Malta on Saturday for his 36th foreign trip, with migration and refugees a key focus of his visit. The Pope was welcomed by the President of Malta Dr George Vella, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Archbishop Charles J Scicluna.

Earlier – The Papal ITA Airways plane carrying Pope Francis, a number of members of the Curia, and 74 journalists took off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at about 8.30 am on Saturday morning.

This Apostolic Journey to Malta represents the Pope’s 36th visit abroad and is his first journey of 2022. It is a visit twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ukrainian refugees bid farewell to Pope as he departs for Malta

Early Saturday morning, before leaving Casa Santa Marta, the Pope greeted some refugee families from Ukraine hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with the Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

Among those present to wish the Pope a safe and fruitful journey, was a young mother with two little girls, ages 5 and 7, who arrived in Italy from Lviv about 20 days ago. Since their arrival in Rome, one of the children has been able to undergo cardiological surgery and is now under medical supervision.

Entrusts visit to Our Lady

On the eve of this journey, he went as is his custom to the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major to entrust his visit to Our Lady, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office. 

On Wednesday, during the General Audience, he called Malta a “luminous land”, and his destination as a “pilgrim in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.”

It was on Malta that Paul was “welcomed with great humanity after being shipwrecked at sea on his way to Rome,” the Pope remarked during the General Audience.

It is on Malta that the Pope hopes to touch first hand the “wellsprings of the proclamation of the Gospel…to know at first hand a Christian community with a lively history stretching back thousands of years, and to meet the inhabitants of a country that lies at the center of the Mediterranean and in the south of the European continent, which today is increasingly engaged in welcoming so many brothers and sisters seeking refuge.”

Vatican News

Photos ReutersConnect/Reuters/EPA/DOI Malta/Malta Gov / Pope Francis in Malta

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