Maltese President's Farewell to Pope

«Hope Has Been Renewed in Us and We Have Been Strengthened»

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LUQA, Malta, APRIL 18, 2010 ( Here is the address George Abela, president of Malta, delivered today at Malta’s International Airport at the farewell ceremony that brought an end to Benedict XVI’s two-day trip to the country.

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Your Holiness,

The time has come for You to leave us but Your spirit will remain with us to continue nourishing our Faith for a long time to come. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us that when it was time for Paul and his companions to leave Malta, the inhabitants «paid us great honour and when we eventually set sail they brought us the provisions we needed». I have to say that, on this occasion, it is You, Holy Father — who are leaving us — that supplied us the provisions we need, the gifts which only our Pastor can bestow.

Your blessings have fortified our Faith, Your gentle manners and kind words have warmed our hearts, Your fatherly concern for our Youth has endeared You to them, Your inspired teaching has helped us all to understand better the beauty of Christian charity. Your presence among us and Your travelling through our parishes, as the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter, will continue to enrich our lives and hopefully make us better Christians and better citizens.

In Your homily this morning, You generously observed that: «No visitor to Malta could fail to be impressed by the devotion of your people, the vibrant faith manifested in your feast-day celebrations, the beauty of your churches and shrines. But that gift needs to be shared with others, it needs to be articulated.»

Holy Father, I feel confident that Maltese Catholics will continue to openly and eloquently profess their Faith and the Christian values of charity and solidarity with all mankind and to endeavour to share these gifts with others, not only in this country but also beyond our shores as so many Maltese missionaries do in many countries around the world.

Through the experience of Your Apostolic visit among us, hope has been renewed in us and we have been strengthened to face our future more securely even in our daily lives. As You teach so admirably in your second encyclical Spe Salvi : «Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.» And you explain to us: «To come to know God-the true God-means to receive hope.»

We were all moved today to learn that You personally met victims who allege abuse who requested to see You and that they found comfort in Your words that I am sure will relieve some of the pain they have suffered for many years. Your sensitivity to their plight fills us with joy and I wish to thank you for finding the time to personally address this delicate issue.

We trust, Holy Father, that You too will take with You happy memories of Your visit to the Island of Saint Paul and of its inhabitants and their Faith and of that hospitality which, we are proud, is recorded in Holy Scripture itself.

We, therefore, express our profound gratitude to You, ask for Your blessing and wish You a safe journey to the Eternal City. Berikna u l-vjagg it-tajjeb.

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