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Monday, September 26, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. the Pope travelled fifty kilometres by car from the city of Freiburg im Breisgau to Lahr airport for his return flight to Italy. The departure ceremony was attended by German President Christian Wulff, to whom the Pope again expressed his thanks, as well as by various German bishops, representatives of the civil authorities and large numbers of faithful.

"Before leaving Germany, I would like very much to thank you for these days, so moving and eventful, spent in my native land", said the Holy Father, who then went on to recall the most important moments of his apostolic visit.

"In Berlin", he said, "I had the particular opportunity of addressing the members of the Bundestag and presenting some reflections on the intellectual foundations of the State. I also readily think of the fruitful conversations which I had with the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor about the present state of the German people and the international community. I was particularly touched by the cordial welcome and enthusiasm shown by so many people in Berlin.

"Here in the land of the Reformation", he added, "Christian unity was naturally a high point of my journey. I would mention in particular my meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Germany, which took place in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt. I am profoundly grateful for our fraternal exchange and common prayer. Significant too were my meetings with Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, as well with Jews and Muslims.

"Of course my visit was particularly aimed at the Catholic communities in Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg. I gladly recall our ... common listening to the word of God and our union in prayer - especially in those parts of the country where efforts were made for decades to remove religion from people's lives. This gives me confidence for the future of Christianity in Germany. As in previous visits, it was clear how many people here are bearing witness to their faith and making its transforming power present in today's world.

"Last but not least, after the impressive celebration of World Youth Day in Madrid, I was also delighted to be in the presence of large numbers of young people in Freiburg at yesterday's youth vigil. I encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers - and these already exist - whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance. ... 'Where God is, there is a future.' Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral. In this sense I accompany in my thoughts and prayers the path of the Church in Germany".

Following the departure ceremony, at 7.15 p.m. the Holy Father boarded his plane to return to Rome. His flight landed at Fiumicino airport in Rome at 8.45 p.m., whence he travelled by car to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo.
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110926 (540)

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