LUANDA, Angola, MARCH 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the farewell address Benedict XVI gave this morning at Angola’s Quatro de Fevereiro airport before departing Africa for Rome, concluding his pastoral visit to the continent.
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Distinguished Civil, Military and Ecclesiastical Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Dear Angolan Friends,
Keenly aware of your presence as I depart, Mr. President, I would like to express to you my appreciation and my thanks for the courteous treatment you have given me and for the efforts made to ensure the smooth progress of all the meetings I have had the joy of experiencing. To the civil and military authorities and to the Pastors and leaders of the ecclesial communities and institutions involved in those meetings, I express my warmest thanks for all the courtesy with which they honored me during these days that I was able to spend among you. A word of gratitude is owed to the media personnel, to the security forces and to all the volunteers who generously, efficiently and discreetly contributed to the successful outcome of my visit.
I thank God that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message. She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person. It is time to say goodbye and to set off once more for Rome, sad at having to leave you, but glad to have known a courageous people determined to begin again. Despite the problems and obstacles, the people of Angola intend to build their future by travelling along paths of forgiveness, justice and solidarity.