Pope Benedict XVI Wraps Up His Visit to Spain

Madrid, Aug 22 (IANS/EFE): Pope Benedict XVI Sunday wrapped up his visit to Spain, where he participated in the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations.

The pope urged young Catholics to "not be afraid" of telling people what they are about.

Benedict XVI closed the celebrations with an address to the approximately 2 million people, according to organizers and Vatican officials, gathered at the Cuatro Vientos air base

"Do not be afraid to be Catholics, giving always witness around you with simplicity and sincerity. May the church find in you the happy missionaries of the Gospel," the pope said.

The sunny outdoor ceremony was in sharp contrast to the heavy rains and strong winds that wreaked havoc Saturday's vigil.

The rainstorm, which forced the pope to refrain from reading his entire address, damaged the 17 chapels holding 600,000 hosts for communion at Sunday's Mass, forcing church officials to not give out the sacrament.

"The Holy Father is deeply sorry," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told EFE.

The pope thanked the young people at the start of the Mass for their show of devotion at the vigil, where they continued singing and urging him on in the deluge.

Benedict XVI urged Europe's young people in his homily to help the continent "find" its Christian roots.

The pope announced at the end of Mass that the next World Youth Day celebrations would take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013.

The 84-year-old pope expressed his desire to preside over the celebration in the South American country.

Benedict XVI was assisted by 14,000 priests, 900 bishops and 60 cardinals in celebrating the Mass, which was attended by Spain's King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and several Cabinet members.

About 1.5 million young pilgrims attended the World Youth Day celebrations in Spain, the Vatican said Sunday.

Throngs of well-wishers gathered at Madrid's Barajas airport to bid the pope farewell.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia took part in the official farewell ceremony at the airport's state pavilion.

The pope said he was "happy and thankful" at the end of his four-day visit to Madrid.


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Title: Pope Benedict XVI Wraps Up His Visit to Spain

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