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From Grotto of Saint Paul, Pope calls for a ‘bonfire of welcome’ for migrants


© Vatican Media

I.Media - published on 04/03/22

"Good Father, grant us the grace of a kindly heart that beats with love for our brothers and sisters."

“Those struggling amidst the waves of the sea,” were at the heart of Pope Francis’ prayer during his visit to the Grotto of Saint Paul in the city of Rabat. The pontiff linked the Maltese hospitality towards the apostle Paul with their current attitude towards the migrants who strand on the island, gateway to the European Union.

After a private meeting with local Jesuits at the Apostolic Nunciature, Pope Francis continued his second day in Malta by following in the footsteps of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI who, in 1990 and 2010 respectively, had also visited the cave where the apostle took refuge after his shipwreck, during a three-month stay in Malta.

“You wished the Apostle Paul to proclaim your love to the inhabitants of Malta, who did not yet know you.,” the Pope recalled in a prayer recalling this episode dating from the year 60, and reported in the Acts of the Apostles.

“Saved from shipwreck, Saint Paul and his fellow travelers found here to welcome them
pagan people of kindly heart, who treated them with rare humanity, recognizing that they were in need,” the Bishop of Rome said in the cramped cave overlooked by a basilica.

In an implicit reference to current concerns about the arrival of foreigners, he noted in his prayer that for the Maltese of St. Paul’s time, “There was no time for discussions, for judgements, analyses and calculations: it was the time to lend a helping hand.”

“Good Father, […] Help us to recognize from afar those in need, struggling amidst the waves of the sea, dashed against the reefs of unknown shores,” asked the pontiff, who is scheduled to visit a migrant reception center in the south of the island in the afternoon.

The successor of Peter invited to light the “bonfire of welcome” to care for all, whom the Lord loves “without distinction.” “In the night, light the way to your kingdom of love and peace,” he asked.

On the sidelines of the prayer, the pope greeted sick people and those cared for by Caritas, and religious leaders, gathered in St. Paul’s Basilica.

The second day of Pope Francis’ visit to Malta continues with a Mass in Granary Square in Floriana, scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m.

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