INTERVIEW WITH THE HOLY FATHER ON FLIGHT BOUND FOR SPAIN VATICAN CITY, 6 NOV 2010 (VIS REPORT) - This morning during his flight to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela the Holy Father responded to a number of questions prepared by the journalists accompanying him on the papal plane. The questions were put to the Pope by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. The first question concerned a congress on shrines held recently in Santiago de Compostela. "You have said you are living your own pontificate 'as a pilgrim' and your coat-of-arms contains the scallop shell. Please can you tell us something of your views on pilgrimage, also in your personal life and spirituality, and on the feelings with which you are going to Santiago as a pilgrim". "I could say that the fact of being 'on the road' is already part of my own biography", said the Pope in his reply. "But that perhaps is an exterior aspect. Nonetheless it has made me think of the instability of this life, of the fact of being on a journey. Of course, against the idea of the pilgrimage it could be said that God is everywhere, that there is no need to go anywhere else. But it is also true that faith, by its very essence, is a pilgrim. ... Sometimes it is necessary to escape from daily routine, from the world of practicality and utility, to undertake a journey towards transcendence, transcending self, transcending daily life and so discovering a new freedom, a time for interior thought and for identifying oneself, for seeing others, seeing God. This is what pilgrimage has always meant. ... It is clear that the routes of Santiago are an element in the formation of the spiritual unity of the European continent. By making pilgrimages here, people have discovered themselves, they have discovered a shared European identity; and this movement is re-emerging today, this need for spiritual and physical movement, finding one another and thus discovering silence, freedom, renewal, God". The second question was: "What significance can consecrating a church such as the Sagrada Familia have at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Is there some aspect of Gaudi's vision that has struck you in particular?" "The truth is", said the Holy Father, "that this church is also an appropriate sign for our own times. In Gaudi's vision there are above all three elements that call my attention. The first is the blending of continuity and novelty, tradition and creativity. Gaudi had the courage to make himself part of the great tradition of the cathedrals. Using a completely new approach, he dared in his own time to make the cathedral a place for the solemn meeting between God and man. And this courage to remain within tradition, but with a creativity that renews tradition and shows the unity and progress of history, is a beautiful thing. Secondly, Gaudi chose the tripartite structure of the book of nature, the book of Scripture and the book of liturgy. This is of great importance. Scripture is made present in the liturgy, it becomes real today, it is no longer a Scripture of two thousand years ago but is celebrated, made real. In the celebration of Scripture creation speaks and finds its true response because, as St. Paul tells us, creation suffers and ... awaits the children of God; i.e., those who see it in the light of God. This fusion between meaning and creation, between Scripture and adoration, is a very important message for today. Finally, the third point is that this church was born of a typically nineteenth-century form of devotion: St. Joseph, the Holy Family of Nazareth, the mystery of Nazareth. But this devotion of the past could be said to have a great deal of importance today because the problem of the family, the renewal of the family as society's fundamental cell, is the great theme showing us the way to build society and to create a unity of faith and life, of religion and society. The main theme here is that of the family, for God Himself became a child in a family and He calls us to build and live in families". "Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia are a very effective expression of the relationship between faith and art", said the third questioner. "How can faith today regain its place in the world of art and culture? I this an important theme for your pontificate?" "It is indeed", said the Pope. "You know that I have given a lot of emphasis to the relationship between faith and reason; that faith, Christian faith, has its identity only in openness to reason, and that reason becomes authentic if it transcends itself towards faith. But the relationship between faith and art is equally important, because truth, which is the aim and goal of reason, finds expression and authenticity in beauty, where it reveals itself as truth. ... The relationship between truth and beauty is unbreakable, and this is why we need beauty. From earliest times the Church, even in the great modesty and poverty of the age of persecutions, used art and painting, expressions of God's salvation in the images of the world, singing, and later building. All this is and remains a constituent part of the Church. For this reason the Church has been mother to the arts for many centuries. The great treasures of Western art - music, architecture, painting - were born from the faith of the Church. Today there is some dissent, but this harms both art and faith. An art which loses its transcendent roots no longer tends towards God, it is a truncated art without a living root. A faith which only has the art of the past, is no longer faith in the present, and today it must again express itself as everlasting truth. And so the dialogue and meeting between art and faith is inscribed in the profound essence of the faith. We must do all we can so that today too faith is expressed in authentic art, as in the case of Gaudi, with continuity and novelty, so that art does not lose contact with faith". The next question concerned the recent creation of a council for new evangelisation. "Many people have asked whether Spain, with the growth of secularisation and the fall in religious practice, is one of the countries you considered as the target of the new dicastery, even the principal target". Benedict XVI replied: "In creating this new dicastery, my thoughts went per se to the whole world, because new schools of thought and difficulties in reflecting on the concepts of Scripture and theology are universal. Yet there is of course a centre, and that centre is the Western world with its secularism and the continuity of its faith, which must seek to renew itself in order to remain as faith today and to respond to the challenge of secularism. All the great countries of the West have their own experience of this problem. ... Spain has always been, on the one hand, a country of origin of the faith: we recall how the rebirth of Catholicism in the modern age came about above all thanks to Spain. St. Ignatius of Loyola, St, Teresa and St. John of the Cross were figures who truly renewed Catholicism and moulded its modern face. Yet it is equally true that Spain also saw the birth of laicism, of anticlericalism, a strong and aggressive secularism such as that of the 1930s. And this dispute, this clash between faith and modernity, both very lively, is coming about again in Spain today. Thus, the future of the faith and of the meeting (meeting not clash) between faith and secularism has its focal point in Spanish culture. In this sense I thought of all the great countries of the West but especially also of Spain". The final question was: "With your trip next year for World Youth Day, you will have made three visits to Spain, more than to any other country. Why this privilege? Is it a sign of love or of particular concern?" "Naturally it is a sign of love", the Holy Father explained. "It could be said that it is by chance that I will have made three trips to Spain. The first was for the great international gathering of families in Valencia. How could the Pope remain absent if the families of the world come together? Next year is World Youth Day, the meeting of young people from all over the world in Madrid. The Pope cannot be absent from such an occasion. Finally, we have the Compostela Holy Year and the consecration ... of the church of the Holy Family in Barcelona. How could the Pope not come? Of themselves, then, these occasions are challenges, almost a compulsion to attend. But precisely the fact that in Spain there are so many occasions shows how it truly is a country full of dynamism, full of the strength of faith. And the faith responds to challenges which are also present in Spain. Therefore, chance has brought me here, but this chance reveals a profound reality, the strength of the faith and the strength of the challenge to the faith".PV-SPAIN/ VIS 20101107 (1550)
EUROPE MUST OPEN TO TRANSCENDENCE VATICAN CITY, 6 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. today Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for the Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela in the city's Plaza de Obradoiro, so called because it once housed the workshops of the stonemasons who worked on the cathedral. The square was able to accommodate some 8,000 people while the rest followed the Eucharistic celebration on giant screens set up in the surrounding area. Among those attending the ceremony were the Prince and Princess of Asturias. Before delivering his homily, the Holy Father pronounced some words in Galician: "I give thanks to God for the gift of being here in this splendid square filled with artistic, cultural and spiritual significance. During this Holy Year, I come among you as a pilgrim among pilgrims, in the company of all those who come here thirsting for faith in the Risen Christ, a faith proclaimed and transmitted with fidelity by the Apostles, among whom was James the Great, who has been venerated at Compostela from time immemorial". The Pope then began his homily by quoting a phrase from today's first reading: "'The Apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord with great power'. Indeed", he said, "at the beginning of all that Christianity has been and still is, we are confronted not with a human deed or project, but with God, Who declares Jesus to be just and holy in the face of the sentence of a human tribunal that condemned Him as a blasphemer and a subversive; God Who rescued Jesus from death; God Who will do justice to all who have been unjustly treated in history. ... Brothers and sisters, today we are called to follow the example of the Apostles, coming to know the Lord better day by day and bearing clear and valiant witness to His Gospel. We have no greater treasure to offer to our contemporaries". "Beside these words of the Apostle of the Gentiles stand those of the Gospel", the Holy Father continued. "They invite us to draw life from the humility of Christ Who, following in every way the will of His Father, came to serve. ... It is a service that is not measured by worldly standards of what is immediate, material or apparent, but one that makes present the love of God to all, in every way, and bears witness to Him even in the simplest of actions. "Proposing this new way of dealing with one another within the community, based on the logic of love and service, Jesus also addresses 'the rulers of the nations' since, where self-giving to others is lacking, there arise forms of arrogance and exploitation that leave no room for an authentic integral human promotion. I would like this message to reach all young people: this core content of the Gospel shows you in particular the path by which, in renouncing a selfish and short-sighted way of thinking so common today, and taking on instead Jesus' own way of thinking, you may attain fulfilment and become a seed of hope. "The celebration of this Holy Year of Compostela also brings this to mind", the Pope added. "This is what, in the secret of their heart, ... so many pilgrims experience as they walk the way to Santiago de Compostela to embrace the Apostle. The fatigue of the journey, the variety of landscapes, their encounter with peoples of other nationalities - all of this opens their heart to what is the deepest and most common bond that unites us as human beings: we are in quest, we need truth and beauty, we need an experience of grace, charity, peace, forgiveness and redemption. And in the depth of each of us there resounds the presence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit". "From this place, as a messenger of the Gospel sealed by the blood of Peter and James, I raise my eyes to the Europe that came in pilgrimage to Compostela. What are its great needs, fears and hopes? What is the specific and fundamental contribution of the Church to that Europe which for half a century has been moving towards new forms and projects? Her contribution is centred on a simple and decisive reality: God exists and He has given us life". "Tragically, above all in nineteenth century Europe, the conviction grew that God is somehow man's antagonist and an enemy of his freedom", the Holy Father explained. "As a result, there was an attempt to obscure the true biblical faith in the God Who sent into the world His Son Jesus Christ, so that no-one should perish but that all might have eternal life. "The author of the Book of Wisdom, faced with a paganism in which God envied or despised humans, puts it clearly: how could God have created all things if He did not love them, He Who in His infinite fullness, has need of nothing? Why would he have revealed Himself to human beings if He did not wish to take care of them? God is the origin of our being and the foundation and apex of our freedom, not its opponent. ... How can it be that there is public silence with regard to the first and essential reality of human life? How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows? We cannot live in darkness, without seeing the light of the sun. How is it then that God, Who is the light of every mind, the power of every will and the magnet of every heart, be denied the right to propose the light that dissipates all darkness? "This is why we need to hear God once again under the skies of Europe; may this holy word not be spoken in vain, and may it not be put at the service of purposes other than its own. It needs to be spoken in a holy way. ... Europe must open itself to God, must come to meet him without fear, and work with his grace for that human dignity which was discerned by her best traditions: not only the biblical, at the basis of this order, but also the classical, the medieval and the modern, the matrix from which the great philosophical, literary, cultural and social masterpieces of Europe were born. "This God and this man were concretely and historically manifested in Christ. It is this Christ Whom we can find all along the way to Compostela for, at every juncture, there is a cross which welcomes and points the way. The cross, which is the supreme sign of love brought to its extreme and hence both gift and pardon, must be our guiding star in the night of time. ... So do not fail to learn the lessons of that Christ Whom we encounter at the crossroads of our journey and our whole life, in Whom God comes forth to meet us as our friend, father and guide. Blessed Cross, shine always upon the lands of Europe!" The Pope went on: "Allow me here to point out the glory of man, and to indicate the threats to his dignity resulting from the privation of his essential values and richness, and the marginalisation and death visited upon the weakest and the poorest. One cannot worship God without taking care of His sons and daughters; and man cannot be served without asking who his Father is and answering the question about Him. The Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilisation and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man. This is what the Church wishes to contribute to Europe: to be watchful for God and for man, based on the understanding of both which is offered to us in Jesus Christ". At the end of his homily the Pope again pronounced some words in Galician saying "may St. James, the companion of the Lord, obtain abundant blessings for Galicia and the other peoples of Spain, elsewhere in Europe and overseas, wherever the Apostle is a sign of Christian identity and a promoter of the proclamation of Christ". Following Mass the Pope greeted Mariano Rajoy, president of the People's Party and leader of the opposition, who was accompanied by his wife, then travelled back to the airport of Santiago de Compostela where his plane departed for Barcelona at 7.15 p.m.PV-SPAIN/ VIS 20101107 (1430)
THE POPE CONSECRATES THE CHURCH OF THE SAGRADA FAMILIA VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today the Pope travelled by popemobile from the archbishopric of Barcelona to the church of the Sagrada Familia, masterpiece of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Work on the building, which began in the year 1882, continues today thanks to donations from all over the world and is scheduled to come to an end in 2026. The final project is due to comprehend eighteen spires, twelve dedicated to the Apostles, four to the Evangelists, one to Jesus - at 170 metres the highest of all - and one to the Virgin Mary. Before Mass, the Holy Father travelled around the outside of the church where thousands of people were gathered to greet him. Benedict XVI entered the building by a secondary entrance where he was welcomed by the president of the Sagrada Familia foundation and by Jordi Bonet, head of the building project. He then went on to meet with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain in the Museum Hall of the Sagrada Familia. After his meeting with the monarchs, the Pope went to the sacristy to prepare for the celebration of Mass during which he consecrated the church and the altar of the Sagrada Familia. Beginning his homily the Pope spoke in Catalan, greeting the King and Queen, and Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, and the other cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay people present. Going on then to highlight how this day "marks an important step in a long history of hope, work and generosity that has gone on for more than a century", the Holy Father made special mention of the people whose efforts made it possible to build the church, especially "the man who was the soul and the artisan of this project, Antoni Gaudi, a creative architect and a practising Christian who kept the torch of his faith alight to the end of his life, a life lived in dignity and absolute austerity. This event is also in a certain sense the high point of the history of this land of Catalonia which, especially since the end of the nineteenth century, has given an abundance of saints and founders, martyrs and Christian poets. It is a history of holiness, artistic and poetic creation, born of the faith, which we gather and present to God today as an offering in this Eucharist". Benedict XVI expressed his joy at the fact that "this shrine, since its beginnings, has had a special relationship with St. Joseph. I have been moved above all by Gaudi's confidence when, in the face of many difficulties, filled with trust in divine Providence, he would exclaim, 'St. Joseph will finish this church'. So it is significant that it is also being dedicated by a Pope whose baptismal name is Joseph". This work of art "stands as a visible sign of the invisible God, to whose glory these spires rise like arrows pointing towards absolute light and to the One Who is Light, Height and Beauty itself. In this place, Gaudi desired to unify that inspiration which came to him from the three books which nourished him as a man, as a believer and as an architect: the book of nature, the book of Sacred Scripture and the book of the liturgy. In this way he brought together the reality of the world and the history of salvation, as recounted in the Bible and made present in the liturgy. He made stones, trees and human life part of the church so that all creation might come together in praise of God, but at the same time he brought the sacred images outside so as to place before people the mystery of God revealed in the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "In this way, he brilliantly helped to build our human consciousness, anchored in the world yet open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ. In this he accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty. Antoni Gaudi did this not with words but with stones, lines, planes, and points. Indeed, beauty is one of mankind's greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like Him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness". "The Church of herself is nothing; she is called to be the sign and instrument of Christ, in pure docility to His authority and in total service to His mandate. The one Christ is the foundation of the one Church. He is the rock on which our faith is built. Building on this faith, let us strive together to show the world the face of God Who is love and the only one who can respond to our yearning for fulfilment. This is the great task before us: to show everyone that God is a God of peace not of violence, of freedom not of coercion, of harmony not of discord. "In this sense", the Pope added, "I consider that the dedication of this church of the Sagrada Familia is an event of great importance, at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him. In this masterpiece, Gaudi shows us that God is the true measure of man; that the secret of authentic originality consists, as he himself said, in returning to one's origin which is God. Gaudi, by opening his spirit to God, was capable of creating in this city a space of beauty, faith and hope which leads man to an encounter with Him Who is truth and beauty itself. The architect expressed his sentiments in the following words: 'A church [is] the only thing worthy of representing the soul of a people, for religion is the most elevated reality in man'". The Holy Father recalled then how "this church began as an initiative of the Association of the Friends of St. Joseph, who wanted to dedicate it to the Holy Family of Nazareth. The home formed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph has always been regarded as a school of love, prayer and work. The promoters of this church wanted to set before the world love, work and service lived in the presence of God, as the Holy Family lived them. Life has changed greatly and with it enormous progress has been made in the technical, social and cultural spheres. We cannot simply remain content with these advances. Alongside them, there also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. "Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom be born and endure. For this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family", said the Pope. Benedict XVI asked God "that in the land of Catalonia new witnesses of holiness may rise up and flourish, and present to the world the great service that the Church can and must offer to humanity: to be an icon of divine beauty, a burning flame of charity, a path so that the world may believe in the One Whom God has sent". "I implore the Lord of our lives that, from this altar, which will now be anointed with holy oil and upon which the sacrifice of the love of Christ will be consumed, there may be a flood of grace and charity upon the city of Barcelona and its people, and upon the whole world. May these fruitful waters fill with faith and apostolic vitality this archdiocesan Church, its pastors and its faithful". The Pope concluded his homily in Catalan, saying "I wish to commend to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, April Rose, Mother of Mercy, all who enter here and all who in word or deed, in silence and prayer, have made this possible this marvel of architecture. May Our Lady present to her divine Son the joys and tribulations of all who come in the future to this sacred place so that here, as the Church prays when dedicating religious buildings, the poor may find mercy, the oppressed true freedom and all men may take on the dignity of the children of God. Amen". At the end of Mass Cardinal Sistach read out the decree by which the Pope declares the church of the Sagrada Familia to be a minor basilica. Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father left the building by the Portico of the Nativity and appeared on the terrace overlooking the square and adjoining street where thousands of faithful had followed the Mass on giant screens. Before praying the Angelus , the Pope recalled how in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre yesterday the beatification had taken place of Servant of God Maria Barbara of the Blessed Trinity, foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "May the deep faith and fervent charity with which she followed Christ", he said, "awaken in many the desire to devote their lives completely to the greater glory of God and the generous service of their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and the most needy". Referring then to the architect Antoni Gaudi, the Holy Father highlighted how, "through his work, he sought to bring the Gospel to everyone. For this reason, he conceived of the three porticos of the exterior of the church as a catechesis on the life of Jesus Christ, as a great Rosary, which is the prayer of ordinary people, a prayer in which are contemplated the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of our Lord. In collaboration with the parish priest Gil Pares, he also designed and financed from his own savings the creation of a school for the children of the workers and of the poorest families of the neighbourhood, which was at that time a outlying suburb of Barcelona. He brought concrete reality to the conviction, saying: 'The poor must always find a welcome in the Church, which is an expression of Christian charity'". The Pope then travelled to the archbishopric of Barcelona, where he had lunch.