On account of their geographical position, these islands have been of great strategic importance on more than one occasion, even in recent times: indeed, the George Cross upon your national flag proudly testifies to your people’s great courage during the dark days of the last world war....
Indeed, Malta has much to contribute to questions as diverse as tolerance, reciprocity, immigration, and other issues crucial to the future of this continent. Your Nation should continue to stand up for the indissolubility of marriage as a natural institution as well as a sacramental one, and for the true nature of the family, just as it does for the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death and for the proper respect owed to religious freedom in ways that bring authentic integral development to individuals and society.
Full text of Pope Benedict's address at the welcome ceremony at Malta International Airport.
The George Cross was awarded to the island for its strength in holding out against German attacks during the Second World War.
Some 5 000 school children have just given Pope Benedict an enthusiastic welcome in the square outside the presidential palace where the Pope was meeting members of the Maltese government. They sang him happy birthday.