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Sunday, 28 May 2006

A farewell ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI at Kraków’s Balice airport

On 28 May 2006, in the course of the official farewell ceremony at Kraków’s Balice airport, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, met in private with Pope Benedict XVI.
After the meeting, the Polish President bid farewell in a solemn ceremony to His Holiness Benedict XVI ending his pilgrimage to Poland.

The address of the President of the Republic of Poland is given below:

Your Holiness,
Most Venerable Holy Father,

Your Holiness, thank you very much indeed for all these moving messages that have such a great appeal for us, contained in your Papal addresses and homilies that we heard in Warsaw, in the Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa, in Kraków, Wadowice, Łagiewniki and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Thank you for so many testimonies to your deep ties with the person and the life’s work of our great compatriot John Paul II. For carrying on His efforts to confirm us in our faith. Thank you for showing us that faith maps out a path of peace and respect for human dignity.

Thank you, Holy Father, for your message of concern and charity addressed to young people. Among the doubts of the present age, young people insistently seek spiritual support. The special atmosphere of the meetings with the young in Kraków’s Błonia Common, as well as under the ‘Papal’ window of the Archbishop’s Palace, will surely survive in the hearts of young Poles.

We will also remember with respect the ecumenical dimension of the Papal pilgrimage. The Polish people have appreciated the need for dialogue between religions and denominations for centuries. They see it as something necessary in today’s world, conducive to mutual enrichment and reconciliation and doing good service to the future.

The message of the visit paid by Your Holiness to the former Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and the prayer for those exterminated there, were overwhelming. Your presence, Holy Father, in that place of planned barbarism that whole peoples fell victim to-- in the first place the Jewish people, as well as members of the Polish people, the Roma people and many, many more--is yet another meaningful sign sent by the Holy Father to the world. We will remember this event as a message that man must never disdain his brother in humanity. Only the path of respect, truth and charity leads towards true reconciliation and dialogue between the peoples and religions of the world. The people of Poland, so painfully afflicted in their history, understand this guidance particularly well and share it.

Thank you, Holy Father, for the friendliness you have shown towards Poland and the Polish people, for all the words showing that you remember about us, for all the words of paternal concern.

I also wish to thank you for the meeting with my family. For the cordiality and warmth of that meeting, for the kindness and friendliness experienced by myself and by my loved ones, for our joint prayer. Holy Father, during your pilgrimage you were close to true Poland. To that Poland which the Polish Pope commanded to the Holy Virgin of Jasna Góra in an Act of Entrustment. To that Poland symbolised by the golden papal rose, the gift of Pope Paul VI to mark the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. You have brought this gift to Poland, to the Jasna Góra monastery, after it had been kept for 40 years at the Vatican.

Your Holiness,
Holy Father,

You may rest assured that we will listen to your words carefully. That we will be looking for guidance in these words on how to best fulfil the message of this pilgrimage: ‘Stand Firm in Your Faith’, in our everyday lives. We remain confirmed in our belief about the need to respect moral values, to foster the Christian faith and to draw upon its riches.

We bid farewell to you, Holy Father, and wish you a safe journey back to the Holy See. We retain the memory of our joint pilgrimage with Your Holiness. We remain strengthened in our hearts and in our minds. Thank you once again for all you have given us. Holy Father, starting from today the Republic of Poland and the People of Poland are looking forward to meeting you again on Polish soil. Thank you!

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