Pope ends World Youth Day trip with many words of thanks
MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI said he was leaving Madrid filled with gratitude to the Spanish people, the World Youth Day organizers and volunteers and the million-plus pilgrims who prayed with him.
Pictured: Pope Benedict XVI greets young people as he arrives for the World Youth Day vigil service at Cuatro Vientos airfield in Madrid Aug. 20. (CNS photo/Susana Vera, Reuters)
"Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul," the pope told King Juan Carlos and other dignitaries Aug. 21 before boarding a plane to return to Rome.
Spain has a reputation as a country where the overwhelming majority of residents are baptized, but faith has little resonance in public policy.
But Pope Benedict said the way Spanish society handled World Youth Day showed it could rally for a great cause: "helping young people to become more deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, our savior."
The 2011 World Youth Day event attracted more than 1 million pilgrims from all over the world, and among many headlines, the pope announced plans to declare St. John of Avila the 34th Doctor of the Church.
The pope thanked the young pilgrims who came to Madrid for World Youth Day with their "joyful, enthusiastic and intense presence. To them I say thank you, and I congratulate you for the witness which you gave.
"I leave Spain very happy and grateful to everyone. But above all, I am grateful to God, our Lord, who allowed me to celebrate these days so filled with enthusiasm and grace, so charged with dynamism and hope," the 84-year-old pope said at Madrid's Barajas airport.
Many of the young pilgrims were on hand at the airport, waving mostly Spanish flags and cheering for the Holy Father as he reached his final destination of the four-day whirlwind tour.
World Youth Day lets the Church look toward the future with greater hope and trust in God, he said. That is why the Church "continues to be young and full of life," even as it confronts challenging situations.
The grace of Christ, the pope said, "tears down the walls and overcomes the barriers which sin erects between people and generations," a fact the pilgrims at World Youth Day experienced firsthand.
The pope said the celebration also proved that young people will respond happily and massively "when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ."
He asked bishops, priests and lay leaders to make sure that their young pilgrims are supported as they return home, so the experience could transform their lives.
Before going to the airport, Pope Benedict took time to thank about 12,000 of the 30,000 volunteers from around the world who ensured – as much as possible -– the smooth functioning of the Aug. 16-21 World Youth Day events.
Crowds waving banners and throwing confetti bid the pope farewell as he traveled through the streets of Madrid on the way to the fairgrounds adjacent to the airport. Upon entry, a crowd of green-shirt-clad volunteers clapped and waved, cheering for the man whose visit they had worked nonstop all week to coordinate. Baby after baby was lifted through the window of the popemobile for a papal kiss as he circled the crowd, smiling and waving.
After greeting a handful of volunteers personally, Pope Benedict addressed the entire group, acknowledging "all the effort that went into preparing for these days, all the sacrifices, all the love."
"Everybody did his or her best, by work and prayer, to weave, stitch by stitch, the magnificent, colorful tapestry of this World Youth Day," he said.
Speaking on behalf of the volunteers, Giselle Azevedo, a 28-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, said they all love God and the Church, which led them to dedicate their time and energy "to serve and to help young people from the whole world have the most incredible experience of their lives: a personal encounter with Christ."
And, she said, the young people of Brazil eagerly await the opportunity to welcome young pilgrims to World Youth Day 2013 in Rio.
— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service. Contributing to this story was Gretchen R. Crowe.
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
- Read the Catechism in a year: A little to read every day, emailed each morning during the Year of Faith
- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy