Upon his arrival today at Valencia’s airport, the Holy Father was met by the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, who welcomed the Pope on behalf of the people of Spain.  Pope Benedict greeted the many dignitaries gathered for his arrival, church officials, and those involved in the governing of the country, as well as all present and listening or watching through various media.

The Pope told those gathered of his joy at visiting their country, of which he has many memories from earlier visits, congresses, and meetings.

After greeting and thanking the various officials, the Holy Father offered words of consolation to all those still grieving the loss of loved ones following the fatal subway accident, which took place on Monday in Valencia and which claimed the lives of 42 people.

Pope Benedict said that his reason for being in Valencia is to take part in the Fifth World Meeting of Families and to recognize the central role of the family in the Church and society.  “The family is a unique institution in God’s plan, and the Church cannot fail to proclaim and promote its fundamental importance, so that it can live out its vocation with a constant sense of responsibility and joy.”

Benedict recalled that it was Pope John Paul II who originally convoked the World Meeting.  Expressing his desire to share in the same deep, pastoral care as his predecessor, the Holy Father expressed the joy with which he looks forward to celebrating the closing Mass of the World Meeting with all of the many participants and people of Spain.

“In union with all taking part, I will implore from the Lord, through the intercession of our Most Holy Mother and the Apostle Saint James, plentiful graces for the families of Spain and of the whole world.”