The plane flying Pope Francis to Colombia is flying a changed flight path to avoid Hurricane Irma, which is slamming the Caribbean.
The special Alitalia jetliner, which departed late Wednesday morning from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport, had been originally scheduled to fly over Puerto Rico and Venezuela before entering Colombia airspace. Instead, the revised route takes it south of the U.S. territory and includes flying over Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Vatican traditionally issues telegrams of papal greetings to nations he flies over while on pilgrimages. So the updated flight plan meant the Vatican had to draft new telegrams.
Francis’ pilgrimage to Colombia is aimed at helping to solidify the South American nation’s peace process. He returns to Rome on September 11.
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