President on Pope's vision
President George Abela was struck by the Pope's vision of "a contemporary role for Malta as an upholder of a Christian identity in a Europe which is perhaps a little too secularised".
Asked which he considered to be the Pope's most relevant messages to the Maltese, Dr Abela thanked His Holiness for his appreciation of the historical role of Malta and the importance of Christianity in shaping its identity.
"He has given us his fatherly advice to continue cherishing our faith and the values emerging from our Christian heritage concerning the family, the sanctity of human life from the time of its conception to its natural end, charity and solidarity with fellow humans, and to be an example to others in this regard," he said.
In his many personal encounters with the pontiff, Dr Abela said he enjoyed the Holy Father's "affability, soft-spoken approach and gentle manners".
"He is alert and has a very sharp mind. I think he felt very relaxed in Malta and thoroughly enjoyed the tumultuous welcome he received from our people."
He said the meeting with the victims of alleged abuse sent an unequivocal message to everyone that he felt the deepest empathy with these persons and that the Church in no way condoned abuse.
"Needless to say, I find him to be a very human person indeed," he said.
Meanwhile, the newly formed Maltese Humanist Association, which represents atheists and agnostics, criticised the President for rejecting the secular principles upon which many modern European democracies were founded.
The association criticised Dr Abela for confusing the disparate roles between Church and State by getting too involved in the papal visit preparations, "going so far as to appear on national television and calling on the Maltese to attend High Mass at the Granaries".
It said it was requesting a meeting with the President to clarify these issues.