OFFICIAL VISIT OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO PERU
ADDRESS OF CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE
Government Palace, Lima
I would like first of all to thank you for the kind courtesy with which you have desired to welcome me today at the beginning of my visit to the Ecclesial Community of Peru.
At this moment, I cannot refrain from thinking with deep participation of the earthquake that a few days ago struck Lima and a vast region of your beloved Country, taking a heavy toll of victims and leaving numerous people injured, hundreds of thousands of evacuees and immense material damage.
Above all, I have come to bring the Holy Father's warm solidarity. Ever since he first learned the news he has followed the developments of the situation with apprehension and fatherly solicitude, and has charged me to bring his personal material and spiritual support to all who have been affected by this disaster. I shall visit some of these places to meet the people who are suffering because of the violent earthquake and repeated tremors.
I hope with all my heart that those who are in particularly precarious situations, as well as the beloved Peruvian Nation, will not lack fraternal help from Christian and civil communities across the world.
I would like to convey to you, to your collaborators and to your loved ones the greeting and Blessing of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who follows with loving interest the journey of the Catholic Community and of your entire Nation.
I have only just arrived here in Peru and I am glad to begin my visit with this official meeting. My warm thanks to you, Mr President of the Republic, for your welcome and for the cordial words addressed to me.
Lastly, I thank you in particular for deigning to honour me with the decoration of the Orden del Sol. This important recognition will be an invitation and an incentive to me to hold you and the beloved Peruvian People in ever greater esteem and friendship.
Thank you, Mr President. May the Lord bless you and your family. May God always bless and protect the Peruvian People.