Pope's Comments En Route to Malta

«Even … Wounded by Our Sins, The Lord Still Loves This Church»

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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, APRIL 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the transcription of the brief press conference Benedict XVI gave today aboard the papal plane en route to Malta. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, facilitated the encounter with the journalists.

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Father Lombardi: Dear friends, His Holiness is here again with us on the occasion of the first of five trips planned for this year.

[Holy Father], we are very grateful to be with you at the beginning of this trip. This way we can congratulate you on the occasion of two anniversaries to take place in these days: that of yesterday, your birthday, and that of next Monday [the fifth anniversary of his election as Pope].

The Holy Father received the questions that some of you presented and which express in a certain sense the expectations that we all have at the beginning of this trip, and for this reason he will offer some reflections, some considerations, responding to our expectations. We will not follow the usual question-and-answer format of other trips; we will allow the Holy Father to offer a synthetic response. Thank you, Holy Father, and have a good trip.

Benedict XVI: Dear friends, good evening! We hope for a good trip, but without this dark cloud that is hanging over a part of Europe.

So, why this trip to Malta? There are many reasons.

The first is St. Paul. The Pauline Year for the universal Church has concluded, but Malta is celebrating 1,950 years since his shipwreck, and 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. I think one can synthesize the essence of his journey with the words he himself used toward the end of the letter to the Galatians: «faith working through love.» This is something important also for today: Faith, a relationship with God, transforms itself into charity.

I also think the memory of the shipwreck says something to us. With the shipwreck, Malta was given to opportunity to have the faith. In this way, 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.

The second reason: I like to be in the midst of a lively church such as the one 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. 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.

Third point: Malta is the place where waves of refugees arrive from Africa and knock on the door of 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. It means responding to a great challenge of our time. Malta reminds us of these problems. It also reminds us that faith is the strength of charity — as well as the imagination — that allows us to respond well to these challenges. Thank you.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness, and have a good trip. We will accompany you with our work and our information.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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