The Pope's visit to migrants and asylum seekers in Ħal Far has sparked outrage among many Facebook users, who rejected his appeal for charity and overwhelmingly told him to take migrants back with him to the Vatican.
During his two-day visit to Malta, the pontiff visited the Peace Lab in Ħal Far where he met with migrants and warned authorities against becoming complicit in the violation of human rights.
Pope Francis heard the accounts of two men who recounted the arduous journeys they suffered to reach Malta. He was also presented with a life jacket, a symbol of the risks that migrants take when they make the journey to Europe.
Pope Francis told migrants Saint Paul and fellow castaways had been treated with "unusual kindness" in Malta.
However, the Pope’s message was not universally welcomed, with several people taking issue with his appeal for solidarity and taking to Facebook to vent their displeasure.
Overwhelmingly, the sentiment among users was that if the Pope was concerned with the wellbeing of migrants, then he should “take them back with him to the Vatican”.
Others took issue that the Pope had “interfered” on a national matter and insisted that Malta was “too small” to accommodate additional asylum seekers and is consequently “full up”.
“How about the Pope takes these illegals back with him to the Vatican, I am sure the Church with all its billions can afford to house, clothe and feed them,” one man said.
“The question is, how many of them is he going to take with him now?” another man said, “Or is it easier said than done?”
One woman said: “Is this why you came then?... We have to put up with a weekend of inconvenience for your sake and you tell us to take in more migrants? Why doesn’t the Vatican take them? An ultra-rich state and not a single migrant has ever set foot there.”
Other users called the Pope “out of touch”, “irrelevant” and a “persona non grata”.
These types of comments could be found in the comment sections of several news reports that covered the event, often with the same users typing variations of the same sentiment on different posts.
On one report that had amassed well over a hundred comments, some two-thirds of the comment section expressed a negative reaction to the Pope’s visit to Ħal Far or called on him to take migrants to the Vatican.