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Pope St Paul VI's Apostolic Visit to Pakistan

Friday 27th November 1970

Pope St Paul VI visited Pakistan very briefly at the start of his last apostolic pilgrimage, on which he also visited Iran, the Philippines, West Samoa, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong & Sri Lanka (then named Ceylon). He came in particular to express solidarity after the devastating Bhola cyclone, which struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and India's West Bengal on 12 November 1970. It remains the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded and one of the deadliest natural disasters, with at least 500,000 people losing their lives, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta.

Pope Saint Paul VI's address at the Welcome Ceremony
International Airport of Dacca, Pakistan - in English & Italian

"I have come to you as a friend among friends, as a brother among brothers. I have come to tell you how much I share your grief on this occasion, how deeply I sympathize with the bereaved families, and how much I would like to comfort you with my fraternal friendship.

I come to you as head of the Catholic religion, whose Founder made brotherly love the sign by which his disciples were to be known. I would like to tell you in my weak words how the Catholic people are filled with deep compassion and have the desire to be one with you. I do not come with the prestige of riches or with the power of technological assistance. I do, of course, esteem and encourage those governments and peoples throughout the world who have nobly risen up to help you. My own participation comes no less from the heart; for I believe profoundly that we are children of the one human family. The sorrow that now engulfs your people must not turn to despair.

May the concrete testimony of people’s solidarity in coming to your aid be a light for you in the dark period through which you are going; may it be a comfort and restore your courage and hope in a better tomorrow.

To my brother Catholics here I renew the appeal which I launched when news came of the calamity which put this region in mourning, that they should take their place side by side with other men of goodwill who are coming to help you. If the words I am speaking to you find an echo beyond yourselves, I again exhort Catholics throughout the world to share generously what they have with those who have lost all.

I have also asked the organization Caritas Internationalis and all the Catholic relief institutions to place their undertakings and resources at the service of the victims of the disaster. May these be a testimony, even if only a modest one, of my great desire and that of the Catholic faithful to relieve the suffering and assist the most urgent needs. May they show the wish we all have to join in the stream of international aid, not in any spirit of competition but out of brotherly love, and fidelity to the command of Jesus Christ: "Treat others as you would like them to treat you."

I present my respectful greetings to the public authorities who, in spite of their present heavy burden of duties, were good enough to come to meet me. Let them be assured of my sympathy in this grief which touches the whole nation, and of my encouragement that they may find speedily and effectively the solutions to the innumerable problems facing them at this moment.

I pray God to bless all men of goodwill who were moved by your appeal.

I assure all who mourn or suffer, whatever be their religion, of my earnest prayers to God, the Lord of everything and the Father of all, that He may bestow on them the comfort of his protection and the sweetness of his merciful love."