Pope Benedict has delivered a message to the people of Guanajuato from his predecessor Blessed John Paul II, which was given aboard the late Pope's plane but virtually “forgotten” after 1979.
“It would be very pleasing to have visited your beloved land, but circumstances have not permitted the time for it,” Pope John Paul II said in words originally directed to the people of Guanajuato as his plane passed over the Sanctuary of Christ the King in 1979.
The late Pope's words were nearly lost for more than three decades, appearing only in a single book prepared by the Mexican Catholic Episcopal Conference. On March 23, Pope Benedict began his speech at Guanajuato's airport by delivering the message from his predecessor.
“I exhort you to remain faithful in your faith, to love Christ and the Church, in intimate union with your pastors,” Pope John Paul II declared in the message, which cannot be found in any other record of Papal speeches from the 1979 trip.
“I also pray for you all, especially for the sick and those who suffer,” the message read. “As a sign of my great affection for you all I offer a special blessing, thanking you for your affection for the Pope and your fidelity to the Lord. May God bless you always.”
At the International Press Office set up at the Hotsson Hotel for Pope Benedict's current visit to Mexico, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained that the words of Bl. John Paul II, delivered by Pope Benedict on March 23, were nearly “unknown” until now.
Fr. Lombardi said Pope Benedict's delivery of the message was “very significant and expresses a relationship in continuity” between his mission and that of his predecessor – who visited Mexico five times, but never made it to Guanajuato.
The Papal spokesman acknowledged that Pope Benedict's voice had been slightly hoarse during his first address in Mexico. But he said the Pope's condition was “fantastic,” explaining that the hoarseness was due to atmospheric conditions on the 14-hour flight to Mexico.
After noting the Pope's prayerful preparation for his speeches and appearances, Fr. Lombardi said the trip had great significance for all of Latin America.
“Benedict XVI’s desire is to continue John Paul II’s mission; to follow his same path, his mission and work in Mexico and Cuba,” he added.
Fr. Lombardi also pointed out that the Pope's speeches “are for meditation since their richness can only be understood with more than one reading.”