Benedict XVI: God Loves This Church

Says Its Gospel Is Strength That Heals

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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, APRIL 17, 2010 ( Despite the imperfections and failings of its members, God still loves the Church, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today during a brief press conference aboard the Alitalia Airbus 320 that carried him to Malta, where the Pontiff will stay only one night.

The occasion of the Holy Father’s 14th international trip is to celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul on the Mediterranean island.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, facilitated the encounter, during which Benedict XVI offered a synthetic response to the various questions submitted.

The Holy Father noted that he is visiting Malta for three reasons, the first of which is to celebrate the anniversary of St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island. «This is for me an occasion to underline once again the great figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles, and his important message, precisely for the world today.»

He added that the apostle’s shipwreck led to a very good result, namely that «Malta was given to opportunity to have the faith.»

«In this way,» he added, «we can also think about how the shipwrecks of life can be part of God’s project for us, and be useful for a new beginning in our life.»

He noted his second reason had to do with the vibrancy of the Church in Malta, «which is fruitful still today in vocations, full of faith in the midst of our times, and responds to the challenges of our times.»

«I know that Malta loves Christ, and loves his Church, which is his body,» the Pope said. «And [Malta] knows that even if this body is wounded by our sins, the Lord still loves this Church, and its Gospel is the true strength that purifies and heals.»

Finally, the Pope highlighted the role Malta plays in the mass immigration of refugees exiting Africa and heading to Europe: «This is a great problem of our time, and naturally, the island of Malta cannot resolve it.

«We all have to respond to this challenge. We must work so that all can live a dignified life in their own land. Also, we must do all that is possible so that these refugees can find room for a dignified life here.»

The Pope noted called the immigration issue a «great challenge of our time,» but recalled that «faith is the strength of charity — as well as the imagination — that allows us to respond well to these challenges.»

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