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June 23, 1988

Let us renew our "Yes to faith", a "Yes to life" in all its aspects

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:

Mr President,

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. Jn. 10:10).

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!

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