Pontiff's New Year's Greetings to Vatican Security

They "Watch Over the Vatican Day and Night ... as Guardian Angels"

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in Italian upon receiving in audience the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican for a traditional meeting that takes place every year in January for the exchange of New Year greetings.

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Dear Officials and Agents! I am happy to receive you, in keeping with the good custom, for the reciprocal exchange of good wishes for the New Year. I address to each one my cordial welcome and my affectionate greeting, which I gladly extend to your respective families and colleagues who were unable to participate in this meeting, because they are engaged in their daily service to guarantee the security of St. Peter's Square, of the surroundings and of the other areas belonging to the Vatican.

I wish to address a particular well-wishing greeting to the director general, Dr. Raffaele Aiello, who since a few weeks has been at the head of your Inspectorate. I thank him for the courteous expressions he addressed to me, also in the name of those present and of the representatives of those central and peripheral structures of the Interior Ministry that cooperate with you, in a spirit of service and willing availability.

I address moreover my deferent greeting to Dr. Antonio Manganelli, the police chief, to the prefect, Salvatore Festa, to the other officials and directors, as well as the chaplains, renewing also in the name of my collaborators, my heartfelt gratitude for the precious work of that Inspectorate of Public Security. 

I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the commitment and professionalism with which the officials and agents of the state police, watch over the Vatican day and night, almost as "guardian angels," guaranteeing the necessary security and placing themselves at the service of pilgrims. This work of vigilance, which you carry out with diligence and solicitude to protect the public order, is certainly considerable and delicate: it requires at times not a little patience, perseverance, sacrifice and willingness to listen. It is a service all the more useful to the tranquil and safe unfolding of the spiritual and religious manifestations that take place, especially in St. Peter's Square.

May your significant presence in the heart of Christianity, where crowds of faithful constantly arrive to meet the Successor of Peter and to visit the tombs of the Apostles, increasingly arouse in each one of you the resolution to revive the spiritual dimension of life, as well as the commitment to deepen your Christian faith, witnessing it joyfully through consistent conduct.

In the Christmas period, just ended, the liturgy invited us to receive the Word who from the beginning was in the heart of the Father and whom he has given us, revealing his face in a Child. He is the Eternal who enters into time and fills it with his fullness; he is the light that illumines and lightens all those that are in darkness; he is the Son of God who brings salivation to humanity. Let us always receive him with trust and joy! He is presented to us by the Virgin Mary. She, as a solicitous Mother, watches over us. Turn frequently to her maternal intercession and entrust to her the year 2011 that has just begun, so that it will be for everyone a time of hope and peace. 

With these sentiments, I invoke on you and your work the abundance of celestial gifts, while I impart to you from my heart a special apostolic blessing, which I gladly extend to your families and dear ones.

[Translation by ZENIT]