2006-05-25 16:34:38

Pope Benedict XVI in Poland on a four-day Apostolic visit

(May 25, 2006) : Thousands of people, waving flags of the Vatican and of Poland, welcomed Pope Benedict XVI, as the Alitalia Airbus carrying him and his entourage touched down at Warsaw’s International Airport in Poland, Thursday morning.

To greet the Pontiff as he stepped off the plane was Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife. Present also were several Church dignitaries- among them Cardinal Jozef Glemp Archbishop of Warsaw and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz -Archbishop of Krakow and political and civil authorities. Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage to the Polish homeland of his predecessor, will take him to places that were central in the life and spiritual formation of Pope John Paul II, who died last year April 2, after a reign of more than 26 years as Pontiff. The theme of this visit is “Stand firm in your faith”, and the main purpose of Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage is to urge Poles to defend their Christian heritage as they integrate into an increasingly secularised Europe.

Pope Benedict was given an official welcome with military honours and as he reached the podium with the President, the band struck the national Anthems of the Vatican and of Poland. From the Airport, Pope Benedict left for Warsaw’s St. John Cathedral and later for his meeting with the Polish clergy. In the evening Pope Benedict XVI paid a courtesy visit to the Polish President at the Palace in Warsaw. The first day of Pope Benedict’s visit to Poland concluded with an ecumenical meeting at the Lutheran Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Warsaw.

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