Speeches 2005-13 11082

CONCERT OFFERED BY THE CARITAS OF REGENSBURG Castel Gandolfo, Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace Saturday, 11 August 2012


Reverend Confrères,
Dear Friends,

At the end of this lovely “panorama” of vocal and instrumental music, it only remains for me to wish the musicians a really heartfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” [may God reward you]. With this evening’s programme you have given us an idea of the multiplicity of musical creativity and the breadth of harmony. Music is not a succession of sounds; it has a rhythm and at the same time is coherent and harmonious; it has a structure and depth of its own. We have been able to enjoy all this in a marvellous way not only in the part songs for several voices, sung with powerful expression by the vocal group Cantico, conducted by Ms Edeltraut Appl, but also in the wonderful instrumental passages we have heard in the performance of Mr Thomas Beckmann, with his wife Kayoko and Ms Kasahara. We were all spellbound — as you will have noticed — in listening to the cello’s warm tones and its vibrant, full timbre. Music is an expression of the spirit, of an inner place of the person, created for all that is true, good and beautiful. It is not by chance that music often accompanies our prayers. It makes our senses and soul resonate when we encounter God in prayer.

Today in the liturgy we are commemorating St Clare. In a hymn to the Saint one reads: “From the radiance of God you received light. You have made room for it, it has grown within you and has been diffused in the world; it brightens our hearts”. This is the basic attitude that fills human beings and gives them peace: openness to the divine claritas, the shining beauty and vital force of the Creator which enlivens us and brings us to get the better of ourselves. Today we have found this great claritas, in a wonderful way, and it has illuminated us. Thus it is only a consequence that artists, starting from their profound experience of beauty, strive for goodness and in turn offer their help and support to the needy. They communicate the good that they have received as a gift, and it spreads through the world. And in this way human beings grow, become transparent and aware of their Creator’s presence and action.

This can certainly be confirmed by Mr Beckmann and all those who are involved with him in the charitable work: “Gemeinsam gegen die Kälte” [together against the cold]. We have understood that this Gemeinsam gegen die Kälte does not respond to an aim imposed from the outside, but comes from the inner depths, from this music that overpowers the cold within us and opens hearts.

I warmly wish you every success in your musical work for many years to come, together with God’s abundant blessings on your charitable commitment. To all the musicians and singers, once again my heartfelt thanks for this beautiful evening. Let us put everything under God’s blessing! I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all: thank you with all my heart! Good night.

TO RECENTLY APPOINTED BISHOPS OF MISSION COUNTRIES* Hall of the Swiss, Papal Residence of Castel Gandolfo Friday, 7 September 2012


Dear Brothers,

I am pleased to meet with you, gathered in Rome for the formation course for recently appointed bishops, sponsored by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I cordially greet Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Dicastery, and thank him for his courteous words to me, also on your behalf. I greet Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, Secretary and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation; I express my gratitude to them and to all who contribute to the success of the Seminar. This course is taking place as the Year of Faith approaches, a precious gift from the Lord to his Church to help the baptized become aware of their faith and to communicate it to all who have not yet experienced its beauty.

The communities of which you are pastors in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, although in different situations, are all engaged in the first evangelization and in the work of consolidating the faith. You perceive their joys and hopes, as well as their wounds and anxieties, like the Apostle Paul who wrote: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (
Col 1,24). And he added: “for this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me” (v. 29). May you always have in your heart steadfast trust in the Lord. The Church belongs to him and it is he who guides her in both difficult and peaceful times. Your communities are almost all recent foundations and demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages deriving from their brief history. They show a shared and joyful faith, lively and creative but one that is often not yet firmly rooted. Enthusiasm and apostolic zeal alternate in them, with moments of instability and incoherence. Friction and neglect surface here and there.

However, they are Churches which are maturing not only thanks to pastoral action but also thanks to the gift of that communio sanctorum which permits a true and proper osmosis of grace between the Churches of ancient tradition and those of recent foundation, and first and foremost, between the heavenly Church and the pilgrim Church on earth. For some time now a decrease in the number of missionaries has been recorded. Nevertheless, it is balanced by an increase in the number of diocesan and religious clergy. The numerical growth of indigenous priests also produces a new form of missionary cooperation: some young Churches have started to send their priests to Sister Churches which are short of clergy in the same country or in other nations on the same continent; this communion must always enliven evangelizing action.

The young Churches are consequently a sign of hope for the future of the universal Church. In this context, dear Brothers, I encourage you to spare no effort, and to be courageous in your diligent pastoral work, mindful of the gift of grace that was sown within you at your episcopal ordination and which can be summed up in the tria munera of teaching, sanctifying and governing. Have at heart the missio ad gentes, inculturation of the faith, the formation of candidates to the priesthood, the care of the diocesan clergy, of men and women religious and of lay people. The Church is born from the mission and grows with the mission. Make your own the inner call of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2Co 5,14). May a correct inculturation of the faith help you to embody the Gospel in the cultures of peoples and to value the good that is alive within them. This is a lengthy and difficult process that must in no way jeopardize the specificity and integrity of the Christian faith (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 52). The mission needs Pastors configured to Christ for holiness of life, prudent and far-sighted, ready to expend themselves generously for the Gospel and to carry in their hearts concern for all the Churches.

Watch over your flock, paying special attention to priests. Guide them by your example, live in communion with them, be available to listen to them and to welcome them with fatherly kindness, making the most of their different abilities. Strive to provide your priests with specific and regular formation meetings. Ensure that the Eucharist is always at the heart of their existence and the raison d’être of their ministry. Look at today’s world with a gaze of faith to understand it in depth, and with a generous heart, ready to enter into communion with the women and men of our time. Do not fail in your first responsibility as men of God, called to prayer and to the service of his Word for the benefit of your flock. May what the priest Onias said of Jeremiah also be said of you: “This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city” (2M 15,14). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, Shepherd of shepherds: the world today needs people who speak to God, so as to be able to speak of God. Only in this way will the word of salvation bear fruit (cf. Discourse to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, 15 October 2011).

Dear Brothers, your Churches are familiar with the context of social instability that has disturbing effects on people’s daily life. Food, health and educational emergencies call the ecclesial communities into question and involve them directly. Indeed, their attention and their work are appreciated and praised. In addition to natural disasters are cultural and religious discrimination, intolerance and factiousness, the result of forms of fundamentalism that reveal an erroneous vision of man and lead to undervaluing, if not actually rejecting, the right to religious freedom, respect for the weakest, especially children, women and those with disabilities. Lastly, recurrent contrasts between ethnic groups and castes lead to unjustifiable episodes of violence. Put your trust in the Gospel, in its power for renewal, in its ability to reawaken consciences and to bring about the redemption of people and the creation of a new brotherhood from within. The dissemination of the Lord’s word makes the gift of reconciliation flourish and encourages the unity of peoples.

In the Message for the next World Mission Day I wished to recall that faith is a gift to be received in our hearts and in our lives, and for which we should always thank the Lord. But faith is given to us to be shared; it is a talent granted so that it may bear fruit; it is a light that must never be hidden. It is the most important gift which has been made to us in our lives: we cannot keep it to ourselves! “All people... have a right to know the value of this gift and to approach it freely”, John Paul II says in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (n. 11). The Servant of God Paul vi reaffirming the priority of evangelization said: “men can gain salvation also in other ways, by God's mercy, even though we do not preach the Gospel to them; but as for us, can we gain salvation if through negligence or fear or shame or as a result of false ideas we fail to preach it?” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 80). This question echoes again in our heart as an appeal to understand the absolute priority of the task of evangelization.

Dear Brothers, I entrust you and your communities to Mary Most Holy, the first disciple of the Lord and the first evangelizer, having given to the world the Word of God made flesh. May She, the Star of Evangelization always guide your steps. In confirmation of this I impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE 23rd INTERNATIONAL MARIOLOGICAL MARIAN CONGRESS Castel Gandolfo, Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome you all with great joy here at Castel Gandolfo as the 23rd Mariological Marian Congress draws to a close. Appropriately, you are reflecting on the theme: “Mariology since the Second Vatican Council: Reception, Results and Perspectives”, given that we are preparing to commemorate and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the start of that great Council, which opened on 11 October 1962.

I cordially greet Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who chaired the Congress; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Council of Coordination of the Pontifical Academies, as well as the President and Academic Authorities of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, to whom I extend my gratitude for organizing this important event. I extend my greeting to the bishops, priests, men and women religious, the presidents and representatives of the Mariological Societies present, the experts in Mariology, and, lastly, all those who are participating in the Congress.

Blessed John XXIII wanted the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council to open precisely on 11 October, the very day on which in 431 the Council of Ephesus proclaimed Mary “Theotokos”, Mother of God (cf. AAS 54, 1962, 67-68). In this circumstance he began his Discourse with important and programmatic words: “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia quod, singulari Divinae providentiae munere, optatissimus iam dies illuxit, quo, auspice Deipara Virgine, cuius materna dignitas hodie festo ritu recolitur, hic ad Beati Petri sepulchrum Concilium Oeucumenicum Vaticanum Secundum sollemniter initium capit”, [in English: Mother Church rejoices that, by the singular gift of Divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned when — under the auspices of the virgin Mother of God, whose maternal dignity is commemorated on this day — the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is being solemnly opened here near St Peter's tomb].

As you know, the Year of Faith will be solemnly opened this 11 October, to commemorate that extraordinary event, which I wished to announce with the Motu Proprio Porta Fidei, in which, presenting Mary as an exemplary model of faith, I invoke her special protection and intercession on the Church’s journey, entrusting this season of grace to her, blessed because she believed. Today too, dear brothers and sisters, the Church rejoices in the liturgical celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the All Holy, the Dawn of our salvation.

St Andrew of Crete, who lived between the seventh and eighth centuries, recorded for us the meaning of this Marian Feast in one of his famous Homily for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the Theotokos in which the event is presented as a precious piece of the extraordinary mosaic which is the divine plan for humanity’s salvation: “This is the highest, all-embracing benefit that Christ has bestowed on us. This is the revelation of the mystery, this is the emptying out of the divine nature, the union of God and man, and the deification of the manhood that was assumed. This radiant and manifest coming of God to men most certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to us. The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the fore-ordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages” (Discourse 1: ). This important and ancient testimony brings us to the heart of the theme on which you are reflecting and which the Second Vatican Council chose to emphasize in the title of Chapter VIII of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium: “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church”. This is the “nexus mysteriorum” of the close connection between the mysteries of the Christian faith, which the Council pointed out as a horizon for understanding the individual elements and the divers affirmations of the patrimony of the Catholic faith.

At the Council in which, as a young theologian, I took part as a peritus, I had the opportunity to see the various ways of addressing themes concerning the figure and role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the history of salvation. At the Second Session of the Council, a large group of Fathers asked that Our Lady be treated in the Constitution on the Church, while an equally large group sustained the need for a specific document that would adequately highlight the dignity, privilege and unique role of Mary in the Redemption brought about by Christ. The voting of 29 October 1963 led to the decision to choose the first proposal and the outline of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church was enriched with the Chapter on Our Lady, in which the figure of Mary — reinterpreted and presented anew, drawing on the Word of God and the texts of the patristic and liturgical tradition, as well as from the extensive theological and spiritual reflection — appears in her full beauty and uniqueness, and closely inserted into the fundamental mysteries of the Christian faith. Mary, whose faith is underlined above all, is understood in the mystery of the love and communion of the Most Holy Trinity; her function in the divine plan of salvation and in the unique mediation of Christ is clearly affirmed and given the proper importance, thereby making her a model and reference point for the Church who in Mary recognizes herself, her vocation and her own mission.

Popular piety, which has always focused on Mary, was nourished by biblical and patristic references. The Conciliar text did not of course exhaustively treat the problems concerning the figure of the Mother of God but it constitutes the essential hermeneutic horizon for all further reflection, both theological and more specifically spiritual and pastoral. In addition it represents a valuable point of balance, always necessary, between theological rationality and believing affectivity. The unique figure of the Mother of God must be understood and deeply examined from different and complimentary viewpoints: while the via veritatis remains ever valid and necessary, one cannot fail to travel the via pulchritudinis as well as the via amoris in order to discover and contemplate ever more profoundly the crystalline and steadfast faith of Mary, her love for God, her unwavering hope.

For this reason, in the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I addressed an invitation to continue along the lines dictated by the Council (cf. n. 27), which I likewise cordially address to you, dear friends and scholars. Make your qualified contribution of reflection and pastoral suggestions to ensure that the upcoming Year of Faith may be for all believers in Christ a true moment of grace in which Mary’s faith precedes and accompanies us as a luminous beacon and a model of fullness and Christian maturity, to which we may look with trust and from which we may draw enthusiasm and joy in order to live with ever greater commitment and consistency our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, and living members of his Body which is the Church.

I entrust to the Motherly protection of Mary all of you and your commitment to research and I impart to you a special Apostolic Blessing. Many thanks.




Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, welcome and thank you for being here with us. There are just over 50 journalists in the entourage, representing different language groups and nationalities. Naturally there are many hundreds, perhaps thousands more, waiting for us in Lebanon, and they are all paying close attention to this journey, as they know how demanding and how important it is. We are grateful to you for being with us to answer some challenging questions that the journalists themselves have put together in recent days. The first two questions I will ask in French. The Holy Father will answer in French, as this is more or less the official language of the journey, and the other three will be in Italian.

Your Holiness, many terrible anniversaries are occurring at this time, for example that of the 11 September attacks, and the massacre at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. On the borders of Lebanon a civil war is being fought, amid much bloodshed, and in other countries too we see an ever-present risk of violence. Holy Father, what are your feelings as you undertake this journey? Have you been tempted to cancel it for security reasons, or has anyone suggested that you should cancel it?

Holy Father: Dear friends, I am very pleased and grateful for this opportunity to speak with you. I can tell you that no one advised me to cancel this journey, and for my part I never considered doing so, because I know that as the situation becomes more complex, it is all the more necessary to offer this sign of fraternal encouragement and solidarity. That is the aim of my visit: to issue an invitation to dialogue, to peace and against violence, to go forward together to find solutions to the problems. My feelings on this journey are above all feelings of gratitude for the opportunity to visit this great country at this time, a country which – as Pope John Paul II said – is a multiple message, within the region, of encounter and of the origin of the three Abrahamic religions. Above all I am grateful to the Lord who has given me this opportunity, I am grateful to all the institutions and people who have worked and continue to work for this journey. And I am grateful to all those who are accompanying me in prayer. With this protection through prayer and hard work, I am content and I am sure that we can be of real service to the good of humanity and to the cause of peace.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Holy Father. Many Catholics are expressing concern about increasing forms of fundamentalism in various parts of the world and about attacks that claim large numbers of Christians as victims. In this difficult and often violent context, how can the Church respond to the imperative of dialogue with Islam, on which you have often insisted?

Holy Father: Fundamentalism is always a falsification of religion. It goes against the essence of religion, which seeks to reconcile and to create God’s peace throughout the world. Therefore the task of the Church and of religions is to undertake a purification – a lofty purification of religion from such temptations is always necessary. It is our task to illumine and purify consciences and to make it clear that every person is an image of God. We must respect in the other not only his otherness, but also, within that otherness, the essence we truly have in common as the image of God, and we must treat the other as an image of God. So the essential message of religion must be against violence – which is a falsification of it, like fundamentalism – and it must be the education, illumination and purification of consciences so as to make them capable of dialogue, reconciliation and peace.

Father Lombardi: Let us continue in Italian. In the context of the surging clamour for democracy that has begun to spread in many countries of the Middle East through the so-called “Arab Spring”, and in view of the social conditions in most of these countries, where Christians are a minority, is there not a risk of an inevitable tension between the dominant majority and the survival of Christianity?

Holy Father: I would say that in itself, the Arab spring is a positive thing: it is a desire for greater democracy, greater freedom, greater cooperation and a revived Arab identity. This cry for freedom, which comes from a young generation with more cultural and professional formation, who seek greater participation in political and social life, is a mark of progress, a truly positive development that has been hailed by Christians too. Of course, bearing in mind the history of revolutions, we know that this important and positive cry for freedom is always in danger of overlooking one aspect – one fundamental dimension of freedom – namely tolerance of the other, the fact that human freedom is always a shared freedom, which can only grow through sharing, solidarity and living side by side according to certain rules. This is always the danger, and it is the danger in this case too. We must do all we can to ensure that the concept of freedom, the desire for freedom, goes in the right direction and does not overlook tolerance, the overall social fabric, and reconciliation, which are essential elements of freedom. Hence the renewed Arab identity seems to me to imply also a renewal of the centuries-old, millennia-old, coexistence of Christians and Arabs, who side by side, in mutual tolerance of majority and minority, built these lands and cannot do other than live side by side. I therefore think it important to recognize the positive elements in these movements and to do all we can to ensure that freedom is correctly conceived and corresponds to growth in dialogue rather than domination of one group over others.

Father Lombardi: Holy Father, in Syria today, as in Iraq a while ago, many Christians have felt obliged, reluctantly, to leave their homeland. What does the Catholic Church intend to do or say in order to help in this situation and to stem the flow of Christians from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries?

Holy Father: First of all I must say that it is not only Christians who are leaving, but also Muslims. Naturally, there is a great danger of Christians leaving these lands and their presence there being lost, and we must do all we can to help them to stay. The essential way to help would be to put an end to war and violence which is causing this exodus. Therefore the first priority is to do all we can to halt the violence and to open up a real possibility of staying together for the future. What can we do against war? Of course we can always spread the message of peace, we can make it clear that violence never solves problems and we can build up the forces of peace. The work of journalists is important here, as they can help a great deal to show that violence destroys rather than builds, that it is of no use to anyone. Then Christian gestures may help, days of prayer for the Middle East, for Christians and Muslims, to demonstrate the possibilities for dialogue and for solutions. I also believe that there must be an end to the importation of arms: without which, war could not continue. Instead of importing weapons, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity, we should find ways of accepting each person in his otherness, we should therefore make visible before the world the respect that religions have for one another, respect for man as God’s creation and love of neighbour as fundamental to all religions. In this way, using all possible means, including material assistance, we must help to bring an end to war and violence so that all can help rebuild the country.

Father Lombardi: Holy Father, you bring with you an Apostolic Exhortation addressed to all the Christians of the Middle East. Today this is a suffering population. Besides prayer and sentiments of solidarity, do you see concrete steps that the Churches and the Catholics of the West, especially in Europe and America, can take in order to support their brethren in the Middle East?

Holy Father: I would say that we need to influence public opinion and politicians to make a real commitment, using all their resources, all their opportunities, with real creativity, in favour of peace and against violence. No one should hope to gain from violence, all must contribute positively. In this sense, we have a real duty to warn, to educate and to purify. Moreover, our charitable organizations should offer material help and do everything they can. We have organizations like the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, specifically for the Holy Land, but other similar organizations could also provide material, political and human assistance in these lands. I would like to say once again that visible signs of solidarity, days of public prayer, and other such gestures can catch the attention of public opinion and produce concrete results. We are convinced that prayer is effective. If it is carried out with great confidence and faith, it will leave its mark.

WELCOME CEREMONY Rafiq Hariri International Airport, Beirut Friday, 14 September 2012


Mr President,
Messrs President of the Parliament and of the Council of Ministers,
Your Beatitudes, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Civil and Religious Authorities, dear Friends,

It is my honour to accept your invitation, Mr President, and that of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, to visit your country. This dual invitation demonstrates, were it necessary, the dual purpose of my visit to your country. It underlines the excellent relations which have always existed between Lebanon and the Holy See, and seeks to contribute to strengthening them. This visit is also in response to your own visits to Rome in November 2008, and more recently in February 2011, a visit which was followed nine months later by that of the Prime Minister.

It was during the second of our meetings that the magnificent statue of Saint Maron was blessed. His silent presence at the side of Saint Peter’s Basilica is a constant reminder of Lebanon in the very place where the Apostle Peter was laid to rest. It witnesses to a long spiritual heritage, confirming the Lebanese people’s veneration for the first of the Apostles and for his successors. It is in order to underline the great devotion to Simon Peter that the Maronite Patriarchs add Boutros to their first name. It is wonderful to see how, from that Petrine sanctuary, Saint Maron intercedes continually for your country and for the entire Middle East. Let me thank you in advance, Mr President, for all that you have done to make my stay among you a success.

Another reason for my visit is the important ecclesial event of the signature and the consigning of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente.I thank all the Catholic Patriarchs who have come, and particularly the Patriarch Emeritus, the beloved Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and his successor Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raï. I offer fraternal greetings to all the Bishops of Lebanon, as well as to those who have travelled to pray with me and to receive this document from the hands of the Pope himself. Through them, I send fatherly greetings to all the Christians of the Middle East. Addressed to everyone, the Exhortation is intended as a roadmap for the years to come. During these days I am also pleased to be able to meet many representatives from the Catholic communities of your country, so as to celebrate and pray together. Their presence, commitment and witness are a valued contribution and are highly appreciated in the daily life of all the inhabitants of your beloved country.

I wish also to greet very warmly the Orthodox Patriarchs and Bishops who have come to welcome me, as well as the representatives of the other religious communities in Lebanon. Dear friends, your presence shows the esteem and the cooperation which, in mutual respect, you wish to promote among everyone. I thank you for your efforts and I am certain that you will continue to seek out the paths of unity and concord. I cannot forget the sad and painful events which have affected your beautiful country along the years. The successful way the Lebanese all live together surely demonstrates to the whole Middle East and to the rest of the world that, within a nation, there can exist cooperation between the various churches, all members of the one Catholic Church in a fraternal spirit of communion with other Christians, and at the same time coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions. Like me, you know that this equilibrium, which is presented everywhere as an example, is extremely delicate. Sometimes it seems about to snap like a bow which is overstretched or submitted to pressures which are too often partisan, even selfish, contrary and extraneous to Lebanese harmony and gentleness. This is where real moderation and great wisdom are tested. And reason must overcome one-sided passion in order to promote the greater good of all. Did not the great King Solomon, who knew Hiram, King of Tyre, consider that wisdom was the supreme virtue? This is why he pleaded to God for it insistently, and God gave him a wise and intelligent heart (
1R 3,9-12).

I have also come to say how important the presence of God is in the life of everyone and how the manner of coexistence, this conviviality to which your country wishes to bear witness, will run deep only if it is founded upon a welcoming regard for the other and upon an attitude of benevolence, and if it is rooted in God who wishes all men to be brothers. The celebrated Lebanese equilibrium which wishes to continue to be a reality, will continue through the good will and commitment of all Lebanese. Only then will it serve as a model to the inhabitants of the whole region and of the entire world. This is not just a human task, but a gift of God which should be sought with insistence, preserved at all costs, and consolidated with determination.

The links between Lebanon and the Successor of Peter are ancient and deep. Mr President, dear friends, I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of men. Christ says, ?????? ????????, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14,27). And looking beyond your country, I also come symbolically to all the countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all the inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs. To them too Christ says: ?????? ????????. Your joys and sorrows are constantly present in the Pope's prayers and I ask God to accompany you and to comfort you. Let me assure you that I pray especially for the many people who suffer in this region. The statue of Saint Maron reminds me of what you live and endure.

Mr President, I know that your country is preparing a fine welcome for me, a warm welcome, the welcome that is given to a beloved and respected brother. I know that your country wishes to be worthy of the Lebanese Ahlan wa Sahlan [welcome]. It is already so, and from now on it will be so even more. I am happy to be here with you. May God bless you all. (?????????? ?????? ????????) Thank you.

Speeches 2005-13 11082