June 23, 1988
Let us renew our "Yes to faith", a "Yes to life" in all
In the afternoon of Thursday, 23 June, the Holy Father began his
second pastoral visit to Austria. On arrival at Vienna Airport he was met by
leaders of Church and State, and was officially welcomed by the President of
Austria, Dr Kurt Waldheim The Pope replied as follows:
I offer you my sincere thanks for the friendly welcome which you, as
Representative of the Austrian Republic, have just given me. I greet you and all
the public representatives present here as well as all the people of this
esteemed country whose heartfelt hospitality I experienced five years ago.
My special, fraternal greeting goes to the Austrian bishops. They have kindly
invited me to visit Austria for a second time. In 1983 a great number of the
faithful gathered in Vienna for the Katholikentag celebration which
carried the theme of "Live Hope, Give Hope". This expressive celebration is
still a living memory to me. I am convinced that the many participants in
celebration in Vienna and Mariazell brought confident joy and faith to their
families and parishes.
My second pastoral visit leads me to most of the other dioceses of your
country. It will be a pleasure for me to grow in the knowledge of the various
features of Austria and the richness of its witness to the faith. The places in
which I will meet the faithful during this visit were carefully chosen. They
comprise a great cross-section of the rich history of this country, which is at
once a history of faith. One recalls the times of grace when the Christian life
flourished as well as those things which have imprinted a special character:
ancient Lauriacum; the cathedrals of Salzburg, Gurk and Vienna; the Alps of
Innsbruck; Eisenstadt near the Hungarian border; and the former Mauthausen
Concentration Camp. All these examples make clear what is meant by the phrases
"much praised" and " much tried Austria" in your national anthem.
At the beginning of my stay in this country I invite all Austria's Catholic
Christians to bring to the places where we will meet one another the immense and
difficult inheritance of the past as well as the joys and cares of the present
to place them together before God. Let us renew our faithfulness to our
Christian calling which has come to us through our ancestors. Let us create a
new strength from the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for a joyful and
convincing confession of Christ and his liberating message for our time.
God alone can give us the necessary courage and sure direction to carry out
our Christian mission in today's world. The theme for this pastoral visit says
the same thing but in different words: "'Yes' to Faith, 'Yes' to Life". Only a
definitive "yes" to faith will enable you to have and retain a resolute "yes" to
life in all its forms and phases. Our Christian calling is a call to life which
overcomes every culture of death. Before his Ascension, Christ himself said that
he came into the world that we might have life, and have it to the fullest (Cf.
Let us together in the coming days renew and deepen our "yes" to faith which
is a "yes" to life, through our inner fellowship with Christ. We ask especially
the help of the Mother of God in this year dedicated to her. May the saints of
this country, whose shrines we will visit together, also help us.
I thank you now, Mr. President, and all the citizens of your country, for the
superb hospitality which you are again showing me and those with me in your
Austrian homeland, a land so beautiful and rich in religious heritage.
May the good that happens here in these days continue to provide Austria and
its citizens with a future filled with the blessings of God!