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Pope sends greetings to Bermuda

Pope Francis

Pope Francis contacted Bermuda to transmit a prayer for blessings as he flew over the Island en route to Cuba.

The Pope, on board an Alitalia flight from Rome to Havana on Saturday afternoon, sent cordial greetings after asking flight crew members to contact the Bermuda Air Traffic Control Tower.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Airport Operations said in a statement today: “The aircraft was inside Bermuda airspace at the time and the pilot stated that Pope Francis was on board and wanted to pray for Bermuda.

“He transmitted a prayer on the ATC Tower frequency and then proceeded on his historic flight to Cuba.”

The radio transcript of the prayer reads: “I send cordial greetings [to] your Excellency and your fellow citizens. As I fly over your country on my way to Cuba for a pastoral visit; evoking these blessings upon you all.

“I ask Almighty God to grant to the nation: wellbeing and peace. From a peaceful Pope.”

According to the spokeswoman, the duty controller thanked the Pope on behalf of Bermuda and wished him God’s blessings on his flight.

The Pope responded: “Thank you.”

Responding in a statement today, Michael Dunkley said he was very “delighted and appreciative” of the Pope’s gesture.

The Cabinet Office said that the Premier had written to Pope Francis, Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro late last year, following the global announcement of the building of relations between the two countries.

In his letter to President Obama, the Premier wrote: “This is leadership that gives hope for a better world in which we step past barriers to grow in collaboration, building on shared interests and the understanding that we are better together than apart.”

Writing to Pope Francis, the Premier expressed Bermuda’s admiration for the role the Pope played in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and the Republic of Cuba.

He added: “Your timely intervention to facilitate the rapprochement represents a triumph of faith and understanding that we are better together than apart. Thank you for your actions and for the continuing commitment to peace on Earth and goodwill to men.”

This week, the Pope is visiting the United States, with trips to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, where he is expected to meet with President Obama and address Congress.

Prior to his US visit, Pope Francis made a stop in Cuba, where he met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and other Government officials.