Welcoming remarks by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso on the occasion of the arrival of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II to Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, October 2nd, 1997

It is with great honor and joy that, upon your arrival to Brazil, I welcome you on behalf of all the Brazilian people.

Your two previous visits to Brazil are still fresh in our memory. Those were unforgettable occasions, in which the Brazilian nation was deeply touched as she received a friend, a friend who has always brought us a message of love, charity and words of peace and justice, which have invariably been a source of inspiration in our efforts to become a better, more humane society. Your Holiness had an opportunity to become directly acquainted with our society, our complex and multifaceted reality in different regions of our country, and could also personally experience the true love which the Brazilian people have for you.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of paying the first State visit of a Brazilian President to the Holy See. I am always touched by the remembrance of the conversation we held then and of the candid and fruitful dialogue I had with Your Holiness on that occasion. I am looking forward to our meeting tomorrow with great expectation, when I hope we will continue to discuss the many topics which bring Brazil and the Vatican together.

Allow me, Holy Father, to express the recognition of the people and Government of Brazil of the love Your Holiness has often shown toward our land and citizens. Deeply touched, we thank you for choosing Brazil to host the 2nd World Meeting with Families. As we see it, this decision is a special tribute to Latin America, which has the largest Catholic population in the world.

Holy Father,

Promoting and supporting the family are essential concerns of the meeting Your Holiness will be presiding over. These are also crucial concerns of the Brazilian Government, which guide our strong determination to ensure better conditions to all our citizens in terms of development and social justice.The Christian values which have guided Brazilians throughout our history are meant to ensure the full development of the human being. Today, when Brazil has fortunately resumed the path of development and justice, they continue to inspire our population.

We are sure that the 2nd World Meeting with Families will be a landmark in the efforts to overcome the many and complex challenges which the contemporary world poses to families at large. The Meeting will be a source of inspiration to humankind as the Third Millennium draws near.

Holy Father,

Your preaching is a reference to all humankind. It is a universal message which comforts us and shows the way to a fairer and happier world. I shall speak on behalf of all those who trust that the 2nd World Meeting with Families will bring a remarkable contribution to our future. I wish you all the best in the visit which is now beginning.

Brazil receives you, Holy Father, with an open heart and the joy of welcoming a special friend.

Thank you very much.

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