Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference,
Your Eminences and Dear Brother Bishops,
The time has come for us to say good-bye. These days spent in Madrid, in the company of so many young people from Spain and from throughout the world, will remain deeply etched in my mind and heart.
Your Majesty, the Pope felt at home in Spain! And the young people who were the heart of this World Youth Day found a warm welcome here and in the many cities and towns of the country, which they were able to visit in the days before these celebrations.
I thank Your Majesty for your gracious words and for your presence at my arrival in Spain and now at my departure. I thank the national, autonomous regional and local authorities for the helpfulness and understanding which they showed before this international event. I also thank the thousands of volunteers who ensured the orderly unfolding of the many activities of this meeting: the various literary, musical, cultural and religious events of the Festival joven, the catecheses given by the Bishops and the main events in the presence of the Successor of Peter. I thank the police and security forces, and all those who helped by providing a wide variety of services: from the music and the liturgy to the details of transportation, health care and meals.
A particular word of gratitude is due to the organizers of World Youth Day: to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and all the personnel of that Office, to the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, his Auxiliary Bishops and the whole Archdiocese, and in particular to the General Coordinator, Monsignor César Augusto Franco Martinez, and the many generous members of his staff. The Bishops worked generously and diligently in their Dioceses to prepare for the celebrations, together with their priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. To all I express my gratitude and I pray that the Lord will bless your apostolic labors.
Nor can I fail to offer heartfelt thanks to the young people for having come to the World Youth Day and for their joyful, enthusiastic and intense presence. To them I say thank you, and I congratulate you for the witness which you gave in Madrid and in the other cities of Spain in which you stayed. Now I ask you to spread throughout the world the profound and joyful experience of faith which you had here in this noble country. Share your joy especially with those who would have liked to come but were unable to do so for various reasons, with all those who were praying for you and with all those whose hearts were touched by these celebrations. By your closeness and your witness, help your friends to discover that loving Christ means living life to the full.
Your Majesty, before returning to Rome, I would like to assure the people of Spain of my constant prayers, especially for married couples and families who are facing various kinds of difficulties, the needy and the infirm, the elderly and children, as well as those who have no work. I pray in particular of the young people of Spain. I am sure that they will contribute the best they have to offer through their faith in Christ, so that this great country can face the challenges of the present hour and can continue along the paths of peace, solidarity, justice and freedom. Along with these intentions, I entrust the sons and daughters of this noble land to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother, and to them all I willingly impart my blessing. May the joy of the Lord always fill your hearts. Thank you.