Organizing a Papal Trip

Interview With Malta Official, Charles Bonello

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By Serena Sartini

VALLETTA, Malta, APRIL 16, 2010 ( Everything — or almost everything — is ready in Valletta for the Pope’s arrival this Saturday. At the general headquarters of the organizing committee in Floriana, very close to Valletta, the final details are being completed.

There is much bustle: the telephone rings constantly and the many volunteers give all the information possible on Benedict XVI’s celebrations on the Island.

Charles Bonello, the government’s official on the organizing committee, stays in his office without a break until well into the night, with the telephone constantly ringing. However, he took time out to speak with ZENIT about the organization process, now in its final phase.

He told us: “We are very pleased with the participation of the mass media. There has been an excellent response. We have some 180 foreign journalists and, including the local press, those who are accredited number 320. There will be journalists from all over the world.

“The celebrations will be followed by numerous television stations. The Pope’s Mass in Floriana, the main activity organized by the Church in Malta, scheduled for Sunday morning, will be broadcast live by various networks. Some 60 television stations will transmit recordings of the Pope’s celebrations in Malta.

“Malta sees Benedict XVI’s visit as a good occasion not only for the country’s image but also to re-launch tourism. The government will do the maximum for this visit.”

ZENIT: Can you give us details on security, transport and logistics?

Bonello: We are concluding the final phase of the logistics; we are ready, we must only verify the final details. As regards security, it will be of a high level.

We have accredited some 5,000 persons between guests, staff, personnel from the forces for public order, volunteers, civil protection officials and doctors.

Public transport will be promoted. Special trajectories will be organized to the Pope’s celebrations.

We expect very many people from the whole Island. For the Mass in Floriana on Sunday morning, between 35,000 and 40,000 people are expected. There will be two popemobiles and a security car.

ZENIT: Will the government and the president take part in the celebrations?

Bonello: The president of the republic and the premier, together with their wives, will be present at the airport for the welcome ceremony, during the visit to the presidential palace — where there will be a new representation of the government — and in the Mass in Floriana.

The government has given much attention to the visit. We began the works of preparation and coordination in October of 2009, when the official confirmation of the trip was issued.

We are very pleased with the level of organization achieved. We hope the visit will be a success for the country, but that it will also leave the expected fruits in regard to the spiritual aspects.

ZENIT: How much will the Pope’s visit to Malta cost?

Bonello: The government allocated €250,000 (approximately $339,000) to cover the costs of the whole organization.

I would like to add that the government also tried to take Benedict XVI to Gozo; however, considering the short duration of the visit, he will not be able to go to that island.

That is why the government has done everything possible so that the inhabitants of Gozo will have the possibility to take part in the celebrations. And it has made available to them the whole trajectory for free.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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