At the conclusion of the commemorative ceremony for the victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, the Pope travelled by car to Krakow-Balice airport, where a brief final ceremony was held before his departure for Rome. Replying to an address from Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, the Holy Father recalled that, four years ago, when John Paul II left his homeland for the last time, he called on the Polish nation "always to be guided by sentiments of mercy, fraternal solidarity, and dedication to the common good, and he expressed the firm conviction that in this way [Poland] would not only find her proper place within a united Europe, but would also enrich this continent and the whole world with her tradition. "Today," he went on, "as your presence in the family of European States is being constantly consolidated, I wish with my whole heart to repeat those words of hope. I ask you to remain faithful custodians of the Christian deposit, and to transmit it to future generations." Benedict XVI thanked the Poles for their prayers for him since the moment of his election as Peter's Successor, adding: "I would like you to continue to remember me in your prayers, asking the Lord to increase my strength in the service of the Universal Church." After thanking the president of the Republic of Poland, the civil and religious authorities, and everyone involved in the smooth running of his visit, the Pope concluded his remarks with the words of St Paul: "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." The papal plane took off from Krakow at 9.50pm, arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 11.30pm. From there, the Pope travelled back to the Vatican by helicopter. Source: VIS
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