MADRID, Spain, AUG. 18, 2011 ( Here is the greeting that Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, gave today to Benedict XVI at the welcome ceremony with youth, held in Madrid's Cibeles Square.

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Holy Father,

You have arrived in Madrid, the capital of Spain, to preside over the 26th World Youth Day. Young peo­ple of the five continents have welcomed you at the historical Puerta de Alcala after which the Mayor has given you the keys to this City, an open hearted and noble city where no one is a stranger, but a brother. We find ourselves in the Plaza de Cibeles, the most emblematic and popular of all Madrid plazas, and today it welcomes the festive presence of this immense multitude of young people who have come from every corner of the world and receive you with joyful and boundless enthusiasm as the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Many arrived in Madrid along with a great number of their Spanish companions after a fruitful pilgrimage organised by the dioceses, cities and towns of Spain. Here they are, dear Holy Father, to live this encounter with you, like children and brothers and sisters of the same Church: the new city of God, which knows no borders!

They have made this great project their own, this spiritual and apostolic objective, which the Father and Shepherd of the Universal Church has proposed to them: that their lives are planted and built up in Christ; that they remain firm in the faith, the faith in Jesus Christ, their Brother, their Friend, their Lord, their Saviour! Their blessed and radiant joy is easily explainable, beloved Holy Father. The successor of Peter, "the Vicar of Christ and visible Head of the whole Church, the house of the living God" (LG. 18) has come to this gathering to strengthen them in that faith which opens their hearts to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, which has the ability to change their lives forever and fill them with joy, a contagious joy capable of transforming not only their own lives, but also the lives of their families and home towns. The Pope calls to them to be "witnesses of joy" and that they will be. Spain, this old nation and community of towns whose history began with the word and embrace of Apostolic Preaching, is ex­periencing it once again. You can see that these young people, who since last Tuesday have filled the streets and plazas of Madrid, and the week before those of many places in Spain, have a deep sense of their purpose in life, because they are filled with the truth, because they are filled with Christ.

Madrid, dear Holy Father, its' Diocese, its' member Dioceses and all the Dioceses of Spain, welcome you with deep gratitude, feeling and sharing the same ardour of love for the Pope that these young people are feeling and demonstrating. Your visit is a visit of exceptional value. With you comes the "Young Church," accompanied by her diocesan bishops, priests, and consecrated members in num­bers representative of a truly universal "catholic" Church! Christ Resurrected is passing by!

And so with the Church of Spain, the society and authorities of Spain, and most importantly, the im­mense majority of Spaniards receive and greet you with the reverent and noble feelings appropriate to a people with a 2000 year old Christian tradition and are exceedingly generous and willing to do whatever necessary for the success of this World Youth Day! The people of Spain!

Welcome dear Holy Father! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Madrid and the whole of Spain, the Church and all society, welcome you with the doors of their homes and their hearts wide open!

The Prayers of our contemplative communities as well as a countless number of dear souls will ac­company us these next few days with a tremendous sense of love for the Pope, the Church and her young people. We entrust ourselves to the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Almudena, Patron Saint of Madrid!

May these next few days together be filled with happiness, dear Holy Father! Blessed be the Risen Christ!