Pope's Words of Thanks to Bavarian Pilgrims
"Yes, God is good and it is good to be a person"
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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday to a group of pilgrims from his homeland, who came to Italy for a "Bavarian evening" as a gift for the Pope's 85th birthday, which he marked in April.
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At the conclusion of this "Bavarian evening" I can only offer a "Vergelt's Gott" (May God reward you -- a southern German and Austrian expression for "thank you") sincerely from my heart. It has been beautiful to be here in the heart of Lazio, in Castel Gandolfo, and in Bavaria at the same time. I have truly been "dahoam" (at home), and I must offer my compliments to Cardinal Marx since he already succeeds in pronouncing this word so well!
We have been able to see that the Bavarian culture is a culture of gladness: we are not crude people, it is not simply a matter of entertainment, but of a culture of gladness, imbued with joy; it is born of an interior acceptance of the world, of an interior "yes" to life that is a "yes" to joy. It is founded upon the fact that we are in harmony with creation, in harmony with the creator himself, and for this reason we know that it is good to be a person. It is true that we must say that in Bavaria, God has made this task easy: he has given us such a beautiful world, such a beautiful land, that it is easy to recognize that God is good and be glad about it. At the same time, however, he has also done it in a way that the men who live in this land, precisely from their "yes," knew how to give it its complete beauty; it became so beautiful only through the culture of persons, through their faith, their joy, songs, music and art. The Creator did not wish to do this alone but only with the help of men.
Now, someone could ask whether it is right to be so happy when the world is so full of suffering, when there exists so much darkness and evil? Is it right to be so high spirited and joyful? The answer can only be "yes!" Because saying "no" to joy we do nothing of use to anyone, we only make the world darker. And whoever does not love himself cannot give anything to his neighbor, he cannot help him, he cannot be a messenger of peace.
From our faith we know and every day we see that the world is beautiful and God is good. And because of the fact that he became man and dwelled among us we know it definitively and concretely: yes, God is good and it is good to be a person. We live in this joy, and from this joy we try to bring joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation.
Now, certainly, I should thank everyone, one by one, but an old man's memory is not trustworthy. So, I prefer to avoid it. I would, nonetheless, like to thank dear Cardinal Marx for having come up with the idea of this event, for having brought Bavaria to Rome and for having made the interior unity of Christian culture tangible in this way; I would like to thank him for having gathered Bavarians of our archdiocese, from lower Bavaria to the Oberland, from the region of Rupertigau to the Werdenfelser Land; I would like to thank the host, who graced us with her beautiful Bavarian dialect: I do not think that I am capable of speaking Bavarian and of being, at the same time, so "elevated," but she knows how to do it. I thank all of the groups, the wind ensemble ..., but, well, I do not want to begin. You know, it all touched me deeply and I am grateful and happy for everything. Of course, the "Gebirgsschützen," which I could only hear from a distance, merit a special thanks, because I am an honorary "Schütze," even if, at the time I was a mediocre "Schütze." Then, I especially thank you, Cardinal Wetter, for having come: you are my direct successor to the See of St. Corbinian; you led the archdiocese as a good shepherd for a quarter century: thank you for being present!
[In Italian the Holy Father said:]
Cardinal Bertello, thank you for your presence. I hope that you too saw that Bavaria is beautiful and the culture of Bavaria is beautiful.
[In German he said:]
Now, as my thanks, I can only give you my blessing, but first let us chant the Angelus together and, as much as we know it, the "Andachtsjodler" (a religious song in the form of a yodel). A heartfelt "Vergelt's Gott"!
[Translation from the Italian by Joseph G. Trabbic]