Pope Francis to visit Malta on 2 April

The Vatican proposed 2 and 3 April for a papal visit to Malta and the government accepted the dates

Pope Francis is expected to visit Malta on 2 April
Pope Francis is expected to visit Malta on 2 April

Pope Francis is expected to visit Malta on 2 and 3 April after the Maltese government agreed to the dates proposed by the Vatican, MaltaToday is informed.

Sources close to the talks said the Vatican informed President George Vella and Prime Minister Robert Abela and both accepted the dates.

Francis was originally meant to visit Malta in May 2020, but the trip had been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The visit was rescheduled for December 2021 but was again postponed.

No official statement has yet been made but the date effectively rules out April as an option for the election to be held.

With the Vatican insisting that the visit not coincide with an electoral campaign, Abela could opt for a 12 March election, which means that parliament could be dissolved as early as next week.

Speculation over an imminent election grew on Tuesday as Health Minister Chris Fearne announced the lifting of COVID-19 measures from 7 February.

However, the Prime Minister may still opt for a June election, taking the administration to its natural end. If he opts for this, parliament can be dissolved at the start of May.

Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit Malta after St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

The first papal visit took place in 1990 when Pope John Paul II was given a rousing welcome. He visited again in 2001 when he beatified Dun Ġorġ Preca, Adeodata Pisani and Nazju Falzon.

Pope Benedict XVI visited Malta in 2010 at the height of the clerical sex abuse scandal.