TESTIFY TO THE LIGHT
Christians are called to receive the Gospel and to
give witness with profound conviction
On Sunday afternoon, 21 August , the Holy Father said
goodbye to the Planning Committee of the World Youth Day 2005 and to the
personnel of the Archbishop's Residence in Cologne in the courtyard of
the Residence. He was then driven to Cologne/Bonn International airport,
where he took part in a simple Farewell Ceremony in his honour. German
President Horst Köhler
addressed the Pope, who then took his leave of those present. Upon
arriving at Rome's Ciampino Airport, the Pope went directly to the
nearby Papal Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo. The following is a
translation of the Holy Father's Farewell Address, which was given in
At the conclusion of this, my first visit to Germany as the Bishop of
Rome and the Successor of Peter, I must express once again my heartfelt
gratitude for the welcome given to me, to my collaborators and
especially to the many young people who came to Cologne from every
continent for this World Youth Day.
The Lord has called me to succeed
our beloved Pope John Paul II, whose inspired idea it was to initiate
the series of World Youth Days. I have taken up this legacy with joy,
and I give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to experience in
the company of so many young people this further step along their
spiritual pilgrimage from continent to continent, following the Cross of
I am grateful to all those who have so effectively ensured that every
phase of this extraordinary gathering could take place in an orderly and
serene fashion. These days spent together have given many young men and
women from the whole world the opportunity to become better acquainted
Seeing 'another Germany'
We are all well aware of the evil that emerged from our
homeland during the Twentieth Century, and we acknowledge it with shame
During these days, thanks be to God, it has become quite
evident that there was and is another Germany, a land of singular human,
cultural and spiritual resources. I hope and pray that these resources,
thanks, not least, to the events of recent days, may once more spread
throughout the world!
Now young people from all over the world can
return home enriched by their contacts and their experiences of dialogue
and fellowship in the different regions of our homeland. I am certain
that their stay, marked by their youthful enthusiasm, will remain as a
pleasant memory with the people who have offered them such generous
hospitality, and that it will also be a sign of hope for Germany.
one can say that during these days Germany has been the centre of the
Young people from every continent and culture, gathered
in faith around their Pastors and the Successor of Peter, have shown us
a young Church, one that seeks with imagination and courage to shape the
face of a more just and generous humanity.
Following the example of the
Magi, these young men and women set out to encounter Christ, in
accordance with the theme of this World Youth Day. Now they are
returning to their own regions and cities to testify to the light, the
beauty and the power of the Gospel which they have experienced anew.
Before leaving, I must also express thanks to all who have opened their hearts and
their homes to the countless young pilgrims. I am grateful to the
Government Authorities, to the political leaders and the various civil
and military departments, as well as the security services and the many
volunteer organizations which have put so much effort into the
preparation and realization of each of the initiatives and events of
this World Youth Day.
A special word of thanks goes to all who planned
the moments of prayer and reflection, as well as the liturgical
celebrations, eloquent examples of the joyful vitality of the faith that
animates the younger generation in our time.
I would also like to
express my gratitude to the leaders of other Churches and Ecclesial
Communities, and to the representatives of other religions who wished to
be present at this important meeting. I express my hope that we can
strengthen our common commitment to train the younger generation in the
human and spiritual values which are indispensable for building a future
of true freedom and peace.
Renewed for outreach
My deep gratitude goes to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of
Cologne, the Diocese that hosted this international meeting, to the
Bishops of Germany, led by the President of the Bishops’ Conference,
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, to the priests, to men and women religious, and
to the parish communities, lay associations and movements who have
devoted such energy to helping the young people present to reap the
spiritual fruits of their stay.
I offer a special word of thanks to the
young people from Germany, who in a variety of ways have helped to
welcome other young people and to share with them moments of faith that
have been truly memorable. I hope that this event will remain impressed
on the life of Germany’s Catholics and will be an incentive for a
renewed spiritual and apostolic outreach!
May the Gospel be received in
its integrity and witnessed with profound conviction by all Christ’s
disciples, so that it becomes a source of authentic renewal for all of
German society, thanks also to dialogue with the different Christian
communities and the followers of other religions.
Finally, my respectful and cordial greetings go to the political,
civil and diplomatic authorities present at this departure ceremony. In
particular I thank you, Mr President, for your courtesy in desiring to
welcome me in person at the beginning of my Visit and for having desired
to be present once again at my Farewell Ceremony. Thank you with all my
Through you, I thank the Government Members and the entire German
People, whose numerous representatives have shown me such liking in
these intense hours of communion.
Filled with the emotions and memories of these days, I now return to Rome. Upon all of you I invoke
God’s abundant blessings for a future of serene prosperity, harmony and