Yesterday evening Pope Benedict XVI said goodbye to the people of the Czech Republic, highlighting the country's many missionaries and saints, the importance of inter-religious unity for the region and the chance he had to encourage young people to build the future on their nation's Christian heritage.
The Pope bid adieu to the Czechs at an airport ceremony, thanking them for their hospitality and help in making his visit successful. "I shall treasure the memory of the moments of prayer that I was able to spend together with the bishops, priests and faithful of this country," he said.
One of the remarkable traits of the Czech Church that the Holy Father emphasized is how it is “truly blessed with a remarkable array of missionaries and martyrs, as well as contemplative saints, among whom I would single out St. Agnes of Bohemia, whose canonization just twenty years ago providentially heralded the liberation of this country from atheist oppression."
Benedict XVI then touched on how his meeting with representatives from other Christian communities "brought home to me the importance of ecumenical dialogue in this land which suffered so much from the consequences of religious division at the time of the Thirty Years' War. Much has already been achieved in healing the wounds of the past, and decisive steps have been taken along the path towards reconciliation and true unity in Christ. In building further on these solid foundations, there is an important role for the academic community to play, through its uncompromising search for truth."
Finally, Pope Benedict mentioned how he was “especially delighted to meet the young people, and to encourage them to build on the best traditions of this nation's past, particularly its Christian heritage.”
“According to a saying attributed to Franz Kafka, 'anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.' If our eyes remain open to the beauty of God's creation and our minds to the beauty of His truth, then we may indeed hope to remain young and to build a world that reflects something of that divine beauty, so as to inspire future generations to do likewise."
The Holy Father then left from the Stara Ruzyne Airport for Rome, where he arrived at 7:40 in the evening.