World Youth Day pilgrims started pouring into Madrid last week, many taking part in the Days of the Diocese before the global event officially began on Tuesday. But one important pilgrim was still missing--Pope Benedict XVI.
This morning at 6am ET (1pm local time), the papal plane touched down at the Madrid Barajas International Airport. Upon his arrival, the Holy Father greeted Spain's King and Queen, along with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (who many had not expected to attend the ceremony).
If you missed the Pope's arrival, S+L is re-airing the ceremony at 12 noon ET/9am PT (immediately following the Angelus). Then at 1pm ET/10am PT, we jump ahead to our live broadcast of the Papal Welcome Ceremony from Plaza de Cibeles, the Pope's first encounter with the several hundred thousand pilgrims of WYD 2011. If you don't have cable, you can watch online on WYD TV
In the mean time, here is the full text of Pope Benedict's address at the airport, followed by the remarks of Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain.
Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Madrid and of all Spain,
I am grateful to Your Majesty for your presence together with the Queen, and for the kind and deferential words with which you welcomed me, reviving in me the unforgettable gestures of kindness which I received during my previous Apostolic Journeys to Spain, and most particularly during my recent Visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. I greet very cordially those of you gathered here at Barajas and those of you following this event on radio and television. A very grateful greeting also goes to those who, with such commitment and dedication, from the ecclesiastical and civil spheres, have contributed with their efforts and work so that this World Youth Day in Madrid might unfold well and bring forth abundant fruits.
With all my heart I also wish to recognize the hospitality so many families, parishes, schools and other institutions which have welcomed young people from all over the world, firstly in various regions and cities of Spain, and now in the great cosmopolitan and welcoming city of Madrid. I have come here to meet thousands of young people from all over the world, Catholics committed to Christ searching for the truth that will give real meaning to their existence. I come as the Successor of Peter, to confirm them all in the faith, with days of intense pastoral activity, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; to motivate the commitment to build up the Kingdom of God in the world among us; to exhort young people to know Christ personally as a friend and so, rooted in his person, to become faithful followers and valiant witnesses.
Why has this multitude of young people come to Madrid? While they themselves should give the reply, it may be supposed that they wish to hear the word of God, as the motto for this World Youth Day proposed to them, in such a way that, rooted and built upon Christ, they may manifest the strength of their faith.
Many of them have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives. The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations. They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life. But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected. Here on this Day, they have a special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence. But they are not alone. Many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives. That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them. World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world.
Of course, there is no lack of difficulties. There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood. Justice and the unique value of the human person are easily surrendered to selfish, material and ideological interests. Nature and the environment, created by God with so much love, are not respected. Moreover, many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain. There are others who need help either to avoid drugs or to recover from their use. There are even some who, because of their faith in Christ, suffer discrimination which leads to contempt and persecution, open or hidden, which they endure in various regions and countries. They are harassed to give him up, depriving them of the signs of his presence in public life, not allowing even the mention of his holy name. But, with all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord. He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us.
In this regard, the young followers of Jesus must be aided to remain firm in the faith and to embrace the beautiful adventure of proclaiming it and witnessing to it openly with their lives. A witness that is courageous and full of love for their brothers and sisters, resolute and at the same time prudent, without hiding its Christian identity, living together with other legitimate choices in a spirit of respect while at the same time demanding due respect for one’s own choices.
Your Majesty, as I reiterate my thanks for the kind welcome which you gave to me, I in turn wish to express my esteem for and nearness to all the peoples of Spain, as well as my admiration for a country so rich in history and in culture through the vitality of its faith, which has borne fruit in so many saints over the centuries, in numerous men and women who, leaving their native land, brought the Gospel to every corner of the globe, and in people through all this land who act with rectitude, solidarity and goodness. It is a great treasure which should be cared for constructively, for the common good of today and in order to offer a bright horizon to future generations. Although there are currently some reasons for concern, the greatest one is the desire for the betterment of all Spaniards with that dynamism which characterizes them and to which their deep and very fruitful Christian roots have contributed so much down through the centuries. From this place I send very cordial greetings to you all, dear friends of Spain and Madrid, and those of you from other lands. During these days I will be with you, thinking of all young people in the world, in particular those who are going through various kinds of trial. Entrusting this Meeting to the most holy Virgin Mary, and to the patron saints of this Day, I ask God always to bless and protect the sons and daughters of Spain. Thank you very much.
Here is the welcome address by King Juan Carlos I to Pope Benedict XVI:
It is from the heart that I welcome you most warmly to Spain, a country that greets you with great joy and pleasant memories of your earlier visits here, occasions on which we were privileged to enjoy your friendship and amiability.
We are honoured that you are today beginning your third visit to Spain in the six years of your Pontificate.
We see this as a special distinction for our country, which we greatly esteem and appreciate.
Once again, your stay among us, and we hope you will make yourself quite at home, is pregnant with meaning and import.
We know how you have looked forward to coming to Madrid, one of Europe’s most open and hospitable capitals, to meet young people from all over the world and reach out to them with the power of your word.
Hundreds of thousands of young men and women from the different parts of Spain and the four corners of the Earth eagerly await you to hold the Twenty-Sixth World Youth Day and to receive your message in all its profundity.
We are keenly aware that the organisation of this event has for years expressed the Church’s desire to support and stand by young people as they seek to fulfill their legitimate aspirations in this complex and interdependent world.
We also retain fond memories of the great figure of His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second, who inspired this initiative and also made his third visit to Spain to preside at the memorable Fourth World Youth Day held in 1989 in Santiago de Compostela.
World Youth Day returns for a second time to Spain, a country whose young people, families and institutions are delighted to welcome all of our visitors from all over the world with open arms.
Many have come a long way to attest their ambition to make the world a better place in a climate of friendship.
In Spain they will find a country that is open to the world in its history, language and culture, and a great democratic nation that is both ancient and diverse, peace-loving and desirous of freedom and justice.
As I stressed on the occasion of your farewell from Barcelona, the artistic, cultural and religious contribution of Christianity is key to understanding Spain’s historical personality.
Spain is committed to Europe and has a profound Latin American and Mediterranean vocation. It is at the same time a nation of committed youth, amply reflected in the involvement of our young people in Cooperation and Development work and international peace keeping operations.
The deep feelings of solidarity, social commitment and eager pursuit of personal realisation shown by Spanish youth, the best educated generation in our history, inspire our pride and confidence in the future.
We have seen great changes in the lives of ordinary men and women and on the international scene since the First World Youth Day.
Together with progress, discoveries and new opportunities, however, poverty persists along with disease, attacks on human rights and the dignity of human beings, and above all the pain of wars and the unacceptable scourge of terrorism.
As this World Youth Day begins, we cannot but remember the countless children and young men and women who are the victims of violence, and for whom we keep a special place in our hearts today.
All of those who have come to Madrid await your teachings of peace, charity and justice to shape their lives, successfully face today’s challenges and build a better society.
These are not easy times for young people, so often frustrated by the lack of personal horizons and jobs at the same time as they rebel against the grave problems that burden humanity and today's world.
At the bottom of this, a profound crisis of values can be felt. Youth needs not only opportunity but an example from the older generation. It is not merely arguments but motivational attitudes that fill and drive young people’s existence and breathe hope into their lives.
As Your Holiness has said in your message to this World Youth Day, “To desire what is truly great is a part of being young.”
We cannot afford to disappoint young people in their legitimate desire to make their dreams a reality. Their aspirations and problems must be our first priority. It is their future, but it is also the future of society as a whole.
Now is the time to redouble our support, to provide young people with all possible resources to help them make their way, to put an end to the disgrace of youth unemployment, and to encourage young people to take up the torch of the values that make humanity great.
We trust in your inspiration, Holy Father, not only to encourage the youth of Spain and of the whole world to go on growing in values, but also to make our societies more sensitive to the need to support young people’s projects and hopes.
I repeat my most affectionate and cordial welcome in the name of the Queen, in my own, and in the name of the people of Spain and its institutions.
Your Holiness, we wish you a happy and fruitful stay with us, this time in the historic and beautiful city of Madrid, and in this dynamic region.
Many thanks, Your Holiness, for visiting us once again.
Credit: CNS Photo/Paul Hanna, Reuters