ZAGREB, Croatia, JUNE 5, 2011 ( Benedict XVI said that while his two-day apostolic visit to Croatia was "brief," it left a "deep impression."

The Pope returned to Rome today at the end of his 16th international trip, which he said gave him the opportunity to "confirm the faith of the pilgrim Church in Croatia in Jesus Christ, our only Savior."

A farewell ceremony was planned at the Pleso International Airport before the Pontiff's departure, but it had to be cancelled due to bad weather. The Vatican released his prepared remarks, in which he affirmed that the faith is "alive and sincere" in Croatia.

"This ecclesial vitality," he said, "must be maintained and strengthened."

"At a time when stable and trustworthy reference points seem to be lacking, Christians united 'together in Christ,' the cornerstone, can continue to act as the 'soul' of the Nation, helping it to develop and to make progress," the Holy Father stated.

Benedict XVI recalled some of the highlights of his two-day trip, including the address he gave Saturday at the National Theater to the world of politics, culture and business

In that address, the Pope underlined the role of the conscience as the "bulwark against all forms of tyranny."

"The quality of social and civil life and the quality of democracy depend in large measure on this 'critical' point -- conscience, on the way it is understood and the way it is informed," said to representatives of key sectors of Croatian society and the Diplomatic Corps.

"If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself. If, on the other hand, conscience is rediscovered as the place in which to listen to truth and good, the place of responsibility before God and before fellow human beings [...], then there is hope for the future."

Christ is worth it

Benedict XVI also recalled the gathering of some 20,000 youth for a prayer vigil in Zagreb's Bano Josip Jelacic Square, which he said showed him "the radiant face of Croatia turned toward the future, illumined by a sincere faith, like the flame of a precious lamp handed down by our forebears for us to guard and replenish along the way."

In his address to the gathering, the Pope urged the young people to root their lives in Christ, and that while it requires "commitment and personal sacrifice, [...] it is worth the effort!"

The Pope also warned the youth of being enticed by "promises of easy success, by lifestyles that regard appearances as more important than inner depth."

"Do not yield to the temptation of putting all your trust in possessions, in material things," he said, "while abandoning the search for the truth which is always 'greater,' which guides us like a star high in the heavens to where Christ would lead us."

The Pontiff added, "Let it guide you to the very heights of God!"

--- --- ---

On ZENIT's Web page:

Farewell address:

Address to Youth:

Address to World of Politics, Culture and Business: