Papal Collaborator Evaluates John Paul II's Trip to Spain

Interview with Father Lombardi, Vatican Radio’s Program Director

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2003 ( A great surprise of John Paul II’s visit to Spain was the large number of people who attended the two key events, says the program director of Vatican Radio.

Father Federico Lombardi, who followed the Pope closely during his 99th international trip, evaluated the visit.

Q: What is your opinion of the Pope’s fifth trip to Spain?

Father Lombardi: I think it is a trip that went perfectly, as anticipated. Although at present the Pope is limited in his movements, we can still say that, with his spiritual presence and his voice, he dominated the terrain.

We saw it in the talks with the young people, in his improvisations, in the force of his expressions. So we arrived at trip No. 99 and we will surpass 100.

Q: You mentioned young people. What scene impressed you most of that meeting?

Father Lombardi: I was very impressed by the testimonies during the meeting with young people. They were extremely effective and wrung applause from the young.

The theme of the trip was «You Will Be My Witnesses,» and we were able to see witnesses not only in the figures of the saints canonized on Sunday morning, but also in the way in which the young people witnessed their commitment to Christ.

They were individuals with different ecclesial occupations — a young nun, a seminarian, a layman, and also a married couple and a handicapped woman had prepared for the occasion. They were really able to demonstrate that the Lord’s Spirit blows very strongly and that witness is alive.

Q: One of the characteristics of this trip was the contagious cries of enthusiasm that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims dedicated to the Pontiff. Was that Latin affection for John Paul II?

Father Lombardi: Certainly. When there are Spanish-speaking young people in St. Peter’s Square or in the world, their presence is noted, by the way they transmit enthusiasm, by the slogans they cry out.

I am always very interested in the creativity of these slogans. This time, I learned two new ones, which I had never heard before. One is: «John Paul ‘torero’ [bullfighter], the whole world loves you.»

We must remember that these days, patron feasts are being celebrated in Madrid with bullfights. To address a person with the name «torero» is to pay him the highest possible compliment.

Another slogan was «John Paul II has changed the world for us.» It is a beautiful slogan, full of hope. I think young people continue to feel the novelty the Pope brings.

Q: There were a million people at the canonizations. The Spanish faithful did not want to miss this engagement. From what you were able to see and hear, what is the impression of the bishops of this attendance and, more generally, of the Pope’s presence in their national community?

Father Lombardi: I think the bishops were very pleased. On Saturday, I attended the dinner offered by the episcopal conference, where there was a very happy and peaceful atmosphere. The Spanish people have really responded with much affection.

The different parts of the country were represented, and one could perceive a peaceful community atmosphere. I would say, therefore, that the episcopal conference has been really encouraged and sustained by the Pope’s presence to carry forward its pastoral projects.

They have also been encouraged to promote the climate of reconciliation and peace in a country in which there is no lack of moments of tension, in particular, as we know, linked to terrorism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation