KRAKOW, Poland (AP) — The Latest on the pope’s visit to Poland (all times local):
A Polish LOT airlines plane carrying Pope Francis has taken off from Krakow and is headed to Rome, ending the pontiff’s five-day visit to Poland, his first to central and eastern Europe.
A Polish military band played tunes including “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “My Way,” popularized by Frank Sinatra, as Francis arrived on the tarmac in a dark car. The Polish president and other officials bid Francis farewell and the white-robed pontiff then walked up the steps to the plane, which also carried dozens of journalists back to Rome.
Polish security officials are no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief that the gathering in which the pope encountered huge crowds day after day passed without incident. Security was very high through the trip, which comes after a wave of attacks worldwide.
Polish officials and citizens appeared to give a warm welcome to the pontiff, even though his progressive brand of Catholicism is disliked by some in the conservative Catholic country.
Heavy rain has led officials to shorten the farewell ceremony for Pope Francis in Krakow, southern Poland, where he has spent five days attending a global Catholic youth pep rally.
A red carpet ceremony at the Krakow Balice airport with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda was changed into a brief conversation inside the terminal building. There were no speeches from the canopied stand Instead, Francis was driven in a car to the plane to the sound of a military band.
Duda and Polish state and church officials, under umbrellas, bid Francis a quick farewell at the steps to the Polish Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner that was to carry him home to Rome.
The departure of the plane is behind schedule.
Pope Francis has made a brief unscheduled appearance in Krakow, carrying on the long tradition of a favorite Polish son, John Paul II, by talking to crowds from the window of the bishops’ residence.
Responding to hours of calls of “Papa Francesco!” and “Come to us!” from a crowd gathered in the street, Francis appeared in the “papal window” on Sunday. Speaking in Spanish and using an interpreter, he thanked the people for the warm welcome he has received on his first trip to Poland, and then prayed.
He drew applause when he said in Polish “Do widzenia,” which means “until we see each other again.” Francis was ending his five-day visit later Sunday.
John Paul II, a former archbishop in Krakow before he became pope, used to chat and sing with crowds in Polish from that window.
A spokesman for Poland’s LOT airlines says that its Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane will carry Pope Francis home to Rome following a five-day visit to southern Poland.
Adrian Kubicki said Sunday that papal emblems have been put on the outside and inside the plane and that Polish wild flowers have been placed near where Francis will be sitting. Polish Oscypek smoked cheese will be on the pope’s menu.
It’s Vatican tradition for popes to fly out on foreign trips on Alitalia planes, and return on those of the host nation.
Francis is winding up his five-day stay in Poland on Sunday after joining hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world for Catholic celebrations. It was the Argentine’s first visit to Eastern Europe.
Polish police say no major security incidents have been reported during Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the country, which has been protected by top-level security measures including sniffer dogs and anti-terrorism forces with machine guns.
As the pope’s visit was drawing to an end Sunday, police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said unattended bags were biggest problem for security services as each such bag had to be checked.
On Saturday, police vans arrived in large numbers to guard a meadow where at least 1.6 million pilgrims were spending the night camping, ahead of a Sunday Mass with Francis
The slaying of an 85-year-old French priest by two extremists in Normandy on Tuesday had compounded security fears surrounding Francis’ trip, which were already high due to a string of violent attacks in France and Germany.
Officials said they deployed tens of thousands of security officials to cover the event.
Ciarka said that uniformed and plain-clothes security forces were deployed on boats on the Vistula River, in helicopters that flew around the crowds and on land.
Before departing Sunday, Francis was to meet the organizers of the event at a sports stadium in Krakow.
Pope Francis has announced that the next World Youth Day will take place in Panama in 2019.
Francis made the announcement Sunday as he wrapped up this year’s global gathering of young Catholic faithful in Krakow, Poland.
He didn’t specify exactly where in Panama the event would be held.
Earlier Sunday, he encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in Krakow to “believe in a new humanity” which refuses to use borders as barriers and spurns hatred among peoples.
Pope Francis has encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in a vast meadow to “believe in a new humanity” which refuses to use borders as barriers and spurns hatred among peoples.
Francis spoke Sunday as he wrapped up a pilgrimage to Poland that included meditation at the Auschwitz death camp and an unscheduled prayer stop for victims of terrorism.
For a second straight day, a huge crowd filled the meadow in the gentle countryside outside Krakow for Francis, whose five-day visit to southern Poland was the Argentine pontiff’s first-ever time in Eastern Europe.
In the final homily of the pilgrimage, Francis said God “demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies.”
As Pope Francis headed to a large meadow in Poland to celebrate a Mass he made a quick ride by car to bless two buildings run by the Catholic charity Caritas.
One building was built as a day center for the elderly, while the other will be a storehouse for food for the needy and is called “The Bread of Mercy.”
On the way out on Sunday morning, Francis nibbled on some dark bread from a big, round loaf offered by women in traditional Polish costumes. He nodded in approval as he chewed away.
A journalist for Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, has died at the age of 58 during an assignment covering the visit by Pope Francis to Poland for World Youth Day, a global gathering for the Catholic church.
The Italian news agency ANSA said that Anna Maria Jacobini was discovered dead in the bed of her hotel room on Friday and is believed to have died the previous night. It said she had complained to colleagues Thursday night of feeling tired. Her death was not reported immediately because her 94-year-old mother had to be informed first.
Jacobini led a weekly Catholic affairs program on RAI and in the past had covered other papal trips, grueling affairs for reporters, who usually work from before dawn till late into the night.
Young pilgrims have filled a massive meadow near Krakow in southern Poland for a Mass with Pope Francis, the last major event the pope will lead as he wraps up a five-day visit to Poland.
Some of the young people even camped out overnight in the field after an evening with the pope there that drew a massive crowd, estimated at 1.6 million by the World Youth Day organizers.
The Mass is taking place in the Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi, a village near Krakow.
The pope has had a busy schedule since he arrived in Poland on Wednesday on his first trip ever to Eastern Europe, visiting Auschwitz, leading Masses and holding many meetings with the eager young people who have traveled from around the world to be with him.