Pope to youths in Malta: Be courageous witnesses to life

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict met with young people in Malta Sunday evening, urging them to be courageous witnesses to the sanctity of human life and the centrality of marriage and the family.

The pope held his encounter after crossing the waters of the Valletta port in a catamaran, accompanied by 10 young people. In his talk to some 10,000 youths on the waterfront, he asked them to maintain the firm faith of older generations, and told them that “the church rejects no one.”

Here is the text of his remarks:

Żgħażagħ Maltin u Għawdxin, jien kuntent ħafna li ninsab maghkom,

[Dear young people of Malta and Gozo, I am very happy to be with you,]What a joy it is for me to be with you today on your native soil! On this significant anniversary, we thank God for sending the Apostle Paul to these islands, which were thus among the first to receive the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I warmly greet Archbishop Cremona, as well as Bishop Grech whom I thank for his kind words, and all the bishops, priests and religious who are here. Most especially, I greet you, young people of Malta and Gozo, and I thank you for speaking to me of the matters that concern you most deeply. I appreciate your desire to seek and find the truth, and to know what you must do to attain the fullness of life.

Saint Paul, as a young man, had an experience that changed him for ever. As you know, he was once an enemy of the Church, and did all he could to destroy it. While he was Continue reading

Pope expresses shame, sorrow in meeting with sex abuse victims

VALLETTA, Malta — Pope Benedict XVI met with eight victims of priestly sex abuse in Malta and promised them the church would do “all in its power” to bring offenders to justice and protect children.

The pope was “deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered,” a Vatican statement said after the private encounter April 18.

“He prayed with them and assured them that the church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future,” the statement said.

“In the spirit of his recent letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope,” it said. Continue reading

Vatican text: Pope meets with sex abuse victims in Malta

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict met today with a group of sex abuse victims in Malta. Here is the Vatican’s statement on the encounter:

PRESS RELEASE: MEETING OF THE POPE WITH A GROUP OF PERSONS WHO WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED

On Sunday 18 April 2010, in the Apostolic Nunciature in Malta, the Holy Father met a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy.

He was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.

In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope.

Pope at Malta Mass: ‘With him, we can do all things’

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating Mass Sunday morning in Malta, Pope Benedict urged the island’s people to preserve their rich tradition of faith at a time when “many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and his church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live.”

Here is the text of the pope’s homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
Maħbubin uliedi [My dear sons and daughters],I am very glad to be here with all of you today before the beautiful church of Saint Publius to celebrate the great mystery of God’s love made manifest in the Holy Eucharist. At this time, the joy of the Easter season fills our hearts because we are celebrating Christ’s victory, the victory of life over sin and death. It is a joy which transforms our lives and fills us with hope in the fulfilment of God’s promises. Christ is risen, alleluia!

I greet the President of the Republic and Mrs Abela, the civil authorities of this beloved Nation, and all the people of Malta and Gozo. I thank Archbishop Cremona for his gracious words, and I also greet Bishop Grech and Bishop Depasquale, Archbishop Mercieca, Bishop Cauchi and the other bishops and priests present, as well as all the Christian faithful of the Church in Malta and Gozo. Since my arrival yesterday evening I have experienced the same kind of warm welcome which your ancestors gave the Apostle Paul in the year sixty.

Many travellers have disembarked here in the course of your history. The richness and variety of Maltese culture is a sign that your people have profited greatly from the exchange of gifts and hospitality with seafaring visitors. And it is a sign that you have known how to exercise discernment in drawing upon the best of what they had to offer. Continue reading

Papal plane outruns ash cloud (for now)

VALLETTA, Malta — Even the papal plane was trying to outrun the giant ash cloud billowing south from Iceland.

When I was getting ready to fly with the pope yesterday, I kept expecting to get a call from someone saying our flight to Malta had been cancelled. Thankfully that call never came, but dozens  of flights to other parts of Europe had been cancelled and we saw many passengers sadly milling around the halls of Fiumicino’s Leonardi da Vinci airport.

After we boarded the Alitalia papal plane yesterday afternoon, Pope Benedict came back to the journalist section of the plane to offer some of his thoughts about his first trip to Malta. But first he began his short talk saying he hoped we would have a good trip and that it wouldn’t be hampered by “this dark cloud hanging over parts of Europe.”

We keep looking at the skies above secretly hoping the ash cloud is upon us so we will be grounded here for a few extra days. The city is lovely and the people are wonderful. It would be fitting for us to be stranded here like St. Paul and his companions were 1950 years ago!

Apparently we journalists aren’t the only ones wishing we get stranded here. According to the Times of Malta, during the pope’s visit with Malta’s political leaders in the Presidential Palace Saturday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi jokingly told the pope that he hoped the ash cloud would delay his departure today and therefore give him more time to see the island of Gozo. Apparently the Pope smiled, but did not reply.

At a late night briefing with reporters yesterday, we asked Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi if it looked like we would get stuck in Malta. He laughed that he really hadn’t had time to study the weather reports since he’s being so busy accompanying the pope, but, he said, if we get to the airport this evening and they tell us we can’t leave… “We’ll just have to see!”

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