.- The Holy Father spent the final day of his Apostolic Visit to Portugal in the nation’s “second city” of Porto where the main event of the day was Mass in the main square. Upon his departure from the city this afternoon he thanked the country for its hospitality and said he hopes to see a renewal of the Church.
Arriving in the city after an hour-long helicopter ride from Fatima, where he had been since Tuesday afternoon, the Holy Father was met by the Bishop of Porto, Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, and local political and military leaders.
From the helipad, he rode in the popemobile to the city’s central Avenida dos Aliados di Porto Square, where he celebrated Mass. In his homily Pope Benedict called on Catholics to join him in being witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus.
At the conclusion of the Mass, he greeted the crowd from the balcony of the Porto municipal building, thanking them for the “festive and cordial welcome” they had given him.
Entrusting all the people, their communities, all services in place for the common good and especially universities to the protection of the Virgin Mary, he said that were it possible, he would have accepted the invitation to prolong his stay in the city.
Following his brief goodbye, he boarded the popemobile once again for the trip to the airport where he addressed those present, led by the President of Portugal, civil and military authorities and bishops.
Recalling the memories and moments of his pilgrimage to Portugal from the last four days, as well as the generous hospitality of the people, he thanked all those involved in the preparations for the visit. He also thanked the communications media for bringing coverage to those who were unable to be present.
He hoped for increased harmony in the nation and that it “continue to manifest greatness of spirit, a profound sense of God and an openness to solidarity, governed by principles and values imbued with Christian humanism.”
The Pope explained that in Fatima he had prayed for the world, asking for “increased fraternity and solidarity, greater mutual respect and renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.”
Pope Benedict told the delegation of his joy at seeing the faith of the Portuguese Church, its faithful priests and its enthusiastic youth.
He hoped, in closing, that his visit “may become an incentive for renewed spiritual and apostolic ardour” and that “the Gospel be accepted in its entirety and witnessed with passion by every disciple of Christ, so that it may show itself to be a leaven of authentic renewal for the whole of society!”
Imparting his Apostolic Blessing on the people, he greeted dignitaries personally before boarding the papal plane for his return flight to Rome.
To read the Holy Father's departure speech, click here.