On a visit to the island of Malta, Pope Francis returns to pray for Ukraine.
“Let us pray for peace,” he said at the Angelus at the end of the celebration of Mass, “thinking of the humanitarian tragedy of Ukraine, still under the bombardment of this sacrilegious war”. More than 20 thousand people flocked to Piazzale dei Granai, in Floriana, to listen to the Holy Father.
The Pontiff also went to St Paul’s Grotto in Rabat, calling for hospitality and openness to those most in need: “May our compassion not be exhausted by vain words, but light the bonfire of welcome, which makes people forget the bad weather, warms hearts and unites them”. Then, Francis recited a prayer and signed a Book of Honour.
In the grotto, the pontiff prayed for migrants after yet another shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea, in international waters, in which more than ninety people who had left from Libya reportedly lost their lives. “Help us to recognise from afar the needs of those struggling in the waves of the sea, dashed on the rocks of an unknown shore,” he said.
The visit to the “John XXIII Peace Lab” migrant reception centre is the conclusion and culmination of Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Malta. On his arrival, the Pope was greeted by the Director of Pastoral Care for Migrants and the Director of the Centre, and together they made their way to the open-air theatre where some 200 migrants were present. On the way, the Pope stopped briefly at an accommodation and greeted its inhabitants. After the opening song and the greeting of the elderly founder, Franciscan Dionisio Mintoff, two guests of the Centre give their testimonies. Then Francis delivered his speech.
“In this meeting with you migrants,” explained the Pope, “the meaning of the motto of my trip to Malta emerges fully. It is a quotation from the Acts of the Apostles that says: “They treated us with rare humanity”. It refers to the way in which the Maltese welcomed the Apostle Paul and all those who were shipwrecked near the island. They treated them “with rare humanity”. “Not only with humanity,” Francis emphasised, “but with an uncommon humanity, a special solicitude, which St Luke wished to immortalise in the book of Acts”. Hence the wish for Malta “to always treat those who land on its shores in this way, to truly be a ‘safe port’ for them”.