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Sunday, December 4, 2016
America bids farewell to Pope Benedict
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 At 8pm local time last night, the Pope arrived at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport at the end of his visit to the United States. The farewell ceremony was held in the presence of political and civil authorities; US cardinals; the President, Vice-President and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and 5,000 faithful from the diocese of Brooklyn where the airport is located, led by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. Following a greeting pronounced by Vice-President Richard Cheney, the Pope delivered the final address of his trip. The Holy Father spoke of his "deep appreciation" for the welcome he had received, thanking U.S. President Bush "for kindly coming to greet me at the start of my visit, and ... Vice-President Cheney for his presence here as I depart". "Once again I offer prayerful good wishes to the representatives of the see of Baltimore, the first archdiocese, and those of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, in this jubilee year". To his brother bishops and to "the officers and staff of the episcopal conference who have contributed in so many ways to the preparation of this visit", the Pope extended his "renewed gratitude for their hard work and dedication. With great affection I greet once more the priests and religious, the deacons, the seminarians and young people, and all the faithful in the United States, and I encourage you to continue bearing joyful witness to Christ our Hope, our Risen Lord and Saviour, Who makes all things new and gives us life in abundance". The Holy Father identified "one of the high-points" of his visit as "the opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations". In this context, he also thanked Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general, "for his kind invitation and welcome". Benedict XVI went on: "Looking back over the 60 years that have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I give thanks for all that the Organisation has been able to achieve in defending and promoting the fundamental rights of every man, woman and child throughout the world, and I encourage people of good will everywhere to continue working tirelessly to promote justice and peaceful co-existence between peoples and nations. The visit to Ground Zero, said the Pope, "will remain firmly etched in my memory, as I continue to pray for those who died and for all who suffer in consequence of the tragedy that occurred there in 2001. For all the people of America, and indeed throughout the world, I pray that the future will bring increased fraternity and solidarity, a growth in mutual respect, and a renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father. "With these words, I take my leave, I ask you to remember me in your prayers, and I assure you of my affection and friendship in the Lord. May God bless America!" The papal aircraft took off at 8.30pm local time (2.30am in Rome). Following a flight of slightly more than eight hours, his plane land at Rome's Ciampino airport at 10.45am today. Source: VIS
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