The much-awaited visit to Malta by Pope Francis is likely to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak but the Maltese church is awaiting a final decision which must be taken by the Vatican and the State, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said.  

“In these situations, I think everyone can understand that it will be very difficult for the Pope’s visit to happen on May 31 as planned. We are awaiting a decision which needs to be taken by the Vatican and the State and we will announce it as soon as we know,” he said. 

Pope Francis was meant to visit Malta on May 30 and 31, extended from the original one-day visit. Preparations were already in full swing before the coronavirus outbreak happened and several delegations from the Vatican had already visited the sites which the Pope was expected to visit.  

He was expected to arrive in Malta in the afternoon on Saturday May 30 and was to visit Gozo early in the evening where he was expected to pay a visit to the Ta’ Pinu shrine.

The following morning, he was going to lead Mass on the Granaries in Floriana and then visit St Paul’s Grotto in Rabat, before lunch at the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio in Malta. In the afternoon, he was due to meet migrants at Ħal Far before heading to the airport for his departure.

The coronavirus has affected the Pope’s daily routine. He is delivering his weekly catechism lesson via livestream rather than in person. He is surrounded by a handful of priest translators who took turns delivering his comments in a variety of languages, making sure to sit a metre apart.

The pope’s weekly Wednesday audience, which is usually a boisterous affair that fills St Peter’s or the Vatican auditorium with tens of thousands of people, is now not happening at all following Italy’s nationwide lockdown. 

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