The visit to Malta by Pope Francis has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Archbishop's Curia announced on Monday.
"In view of the current situation around the world, and in agreement with the Authorities and the Catholic Church of our country, the Apostolic Journey by Pope Francis to Malta and Gozo has been postponed. The date of the journey will be determined at a later stage," the church said in a statement.
The Bishops urged Catholics to keep Pope Francis in prayer.
Times of Malta reported last week that the visit was likely to be postponed.
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 also 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.
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