VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2010 (VIS) - Following his meeting with young people, Benedict XVI went to Luqa international airport, where the departure ceremony took place at the end of his visit to Malta, the fourteenth apostolic trip of his pontificate.
Following a speech from George Abela, president of the Republic of Malta, the Holy Father pronounced his own address.
"My journey", he said, "has given me a deeper appreciation of how the Gospel preached by St. Paul has shaped the spiritual identity of the Maltese people. As I leave you, let me encourage you once more to cultivate a deep awareness of your identity and to embrace the responsibilities that flow from it, especially by promoting the Gospel values that will grant you a clear vision of human dignity and the common origin and destiny of mankind.
"On account of its geographical position in the heart of the Mediterranean", the Pope went on, "many immigrants arrive on Malta's shores, some fleeing from situations of violence and persecution, others in search of better conditions of life. I am aware of the difficulties that welcoming a large number of people may cause, difficulties which cannot be solved by any country of first arrival on its own. At the same time, I am also confident that, on the strength of its Christian roots and its long and proud history of welcoming strangers, Malta will endeavour, with the support of other States and international organisations, to come to the aid of those who arrive here and to ensure that their rights be respected".
"Unity, solidarity and mutual respect stand at the basis of your social and political life. Inspired by your Catholic faith, they are the compass that will guide you in the search for authentic and integral development. The treasure of the Church's social teaching will inspire and guide these efforts. Never allow your true identity to be compromised by indifferentism or relativism. May you always remain faithful to the teaching of St. Paul".
The departure ceremony concluded, Benedict XVI boarded his return flight to Rome, arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 9.40 p.m., whence he travelled by helicopter to the Vatican.
PV-MALTA/ VIS 20100419 (370)