His Holiness John Paul II

Beatification in Fátima

  Arrival speech in Lisbon

I thank and bless God for allowing me to return to this noble country

May 12, 2000

The Holy Father's fourth Pastoral Visit to Portugal began on Friday evening, 12 May, with arrival ceremonies at Lisbon's Portela International Airport. On hand to welcome the Pope were authorities of Church and State, including the President, the Prime Minister, the Patriarch of Lisbon and the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima. The Holy Father greeted those present with a brief address in Portuguese. Here is a translation.
Mr President,
Mr Prime Minister,
Venerable Patriarch of Lisbon,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
God has allowed me to return to Portugal, for which I thank and bless him. I extend my cordial greetings of solidarity and peace to you who have gathered here to meet me and to all the sons and daughters of this noble nation. My first respectful greeting is to you, Mr President, who have honoured my arrival with your presence:  many thanks!
I would first like to express my gratitude for all the understanding and cooperation of the State authorities in making this brief visit possible, which is actually the liturgical ceremony at the Shrine of Fátima. In answer to the insistant request of the Bishops of Portugal, I decided to come to the Cova da Iria to celebrate, together with the Catholic community, the beatification of the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, in the very place which was their cradle and is now their altar. I know that their homeland praises its heroes and glorifies its saints; the Pope gladly joins in Portugal's rejoicing.
At the beginning of my visit, I express my deep esteem and affection for all the Portuguese, to whom I wish a future of peace, well-being and prosperity, as they continue on the path of their country's most genuine traditions and values, which are rooted in Christianity. May God watch over all the sons and daughters of this land of the Blessed Virgin. God bless Portugal!

(©L'Osservatore Romano - 17 May 2000)