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Monday, September 20, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At 6.15 p.m. today Benedict XVI arrived at Birmingham airport where the departure ceremony took place at the end of his apostolic trip to the UK. Following some words from David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom, the Holy Father arose to address some remarks to those present.

  "Thank you for the warmth of your welcome and for the hospitality that I have enjoyed", said the Pope, who also expressed his gratitude "for all the hard work of preparation, on the part of both the present and the previous government, the civil service, local authorities and police, and the many volunteers".

  "During my time with you", he went on, "I have been able to meet representatives of the many communities, cultures, languages and religions that make up British society. The very diversity of modern Britain is a challenge to its government and people, but it also represents a great opportunity to further inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for the enrichment of the entire community".

  The Pope mentioned his meetings with Queen Elizabeth II and with political leaders, and his address to both Houses of Parliament, expressing the hope "that these occasions will contribute to confirming and strengthening the excellent relations between the Holy See and the United Kingdom, especially in co-operation for international development, in care for the natural environment, and in the building of a civil society with a renewed sense of shared values and common purpose".

  On the subject of the joint celebrations with the Archbishop of Canterbury and bishops of the Church of England in Westminster Abbey - "a place which speaks so eloquently of our shared traditions and culture" - the Holy Father said: "As Britain is home to so many religious traditions, I was grateful to have the opportunity to meet their representatives and to share some thoughts with them about the contribution that the religions can offer to the development of a healthy pluralistic society.

  "Naturally", he added in conclusion, "my visit was directed in a special way to the Catholics of the United Kingdom. I treasure the time spent with the bishops, clergy, religious and laity, and with teachers, pupils and older people. It was especially moving to celebrate with them, here in Birmingham, the beatification of a great son of England, Cardinal John Henry Newman. With his vast legacy of scholarly and spiritual writings, I am certain that he still has much to teach us about Christian living and witness amid the challenges of today's world, challenges which he foresaw with such remarkable clarity".

  At 6.45 p.m. the Pope boarded his flight to Rome. The plane landed at 10 p.m. local time in Rome's Ciampino airport whence he travelled by car to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo.
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