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alta welcomes His Holiness Pope Francis on his first apostolic visit to the Islands. This visit follows in the footsteps of his predecessors Pope John Paul II in 1990 and 2001 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

The visit was announced by the Office of the Holy See on February 10, the feast of St. Paul with the quote: "They showed us unusual kindness" referring to the hospitality extended to the shipwrecked Apostle Paul in AD.60 and also today in respect of those migrants who traverse the Mediterranean in search of a safe haven.

The pontiff will visit to the National shrine of Ta' Pinu in Gozo when he will travel there by catamaran as Pope John Paul II had during his 1990 visit. The following day, he will visit the Grotto of St. Paul in Rabat, celebrate Mass on the Floriana Granaries, and meet migrants at the Pope John XXIII Peace Lab at Hal Far.
This much-awaited visit comes after a previous one was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1936 is a pope of many firsts. He is the first pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since Gregory III, a Syrian in the 8th century AD.

He maintains the traditional views and position of the Catholic Church, not least that regarding abortion, while also advocating that the Church should be more open and inclusive. He is an outspoken critic of unbridled capitalism and free market economics, consumerism, and overdevelopment, and advocates taking action on climate change - a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si'.

In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and supported the cause of refugees during the European and Central American migrant crises. Since 2018, he has been an opponent of populism. He has faced criticism on various matters, including his promotion of ecumenism, as well as following his publication of Amoris laetitia.

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