Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Father Lawrence Martin Jenco

 

August 1, 1986

 

The President. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think you all know who we have here with us today. And certainly his being here is an answer to a great many prayers by all of us, and we're delighted to have Father Jenco with us. And now, Father Jenco.

 

Father Jenco. I'd like to make a public statement: I have already expressed my joy and gratitude over being home -- home with my family, both physical and spiritual. I'm about to meet with the President later, to whom I shall convey the confidential message from my captors. This completes my mission. I've met with His Holiness the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and now I'm meeting with President Reagan. I'm not a politician; I'm a pilgrim. I believe, nevertheless, that there is a resolution to the tragedy of Lebanon that is based on our common belief in an Almighty God.

 

I appeal to those who held me captive, to those still holding Tom, Terry, and David, and this situation. The best way they can do this would be to accept the invitation of Mr. Terry Waite to continue the dialog aimed at resolving the situation. He is a churchman, a man who knows the thinking of those in authority in both the Catholic and Anglican Churches. It must be resolved soon. Our common beliefs dictate this. Our humanity demands it. I pray for those being held captive, and I also pray for my captors. I thank you.

 

Q. Father Jenco, is there anything at all that you think the President could do to be helpful?

 

Father Jenco. We will talk about that now.

 

Q. Do you have any more or less hope for the release of your brothers, given the fact that you were released?

 

Father Jenco. For 19 months I lived with faith, hope, and love. I shared -- for many, many months together with these men -- faith, hope, and love. We never gave up hope. Thank you.

 

Q. Mr. President, do you have any reason for optimism?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Do you have any reason for optimism, Mr. President?

 

The President. I'm always optimistic, and I still have faith in prayer. This is evidence of it.

 

Note: The President spoke at 2:25 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Following the remarks and the exchange with reporters, the President met privately with Father Jenco in the Oval Office and then with Father Jenco's family in the Cabinet Room. In his remarks, Father Jenco referred to Thomas Sutherland, David Jacobsen, and Terry A. Anderson, who were being held hostage in Lebanon. Mr. Jacobsen was released by his captors on November 2.