Pope Evaluates His Visit to Spain

It Is Urgent to Propose «the Lasting Values of the Spirit»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered at today’s general audience, which he dedicated to comment on his apostolic trip to Spain last weekend.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

1. Today I wish to speak about the apostolic trip I made to Spain, last Saturday and Sunday, whose theme was «You Will Be My Witnesses.»

I thank the Lord for granting me the grace to visit for the fifth time this noble and beloved nation, and I renew my expression of cordial gratitude to the cardinal archbishop of Madrid, to the pastors, and to the whole Church of Spain, to Their Majesties the King and Queen, as well as to the head of government and other authorities who welcomed me with so much attention and affection.

From the moment of my arrival, I had the opportunity to express the esteem that the Successor of Peter has for that portion of the People of God who — for almost 2,000 years — have been pilgrims in Iberian land and have played an important role in the evangelization of Europe and the world. At the same time, I wished to express my appreciation for the social progress of the country, requesting that it always be based on those authentic and perennial values that constitute the precious heritage of the whole European continent.

2. There were two principal moments in this pastoral pilgrimage: the important meeting with young people on Saturday afternoon, and the holy Mass, with the canonization of five blessed, on Sunday morning.

At the Cuatro Vientos air base in Madrid, at the vigil of young people, which had the recitation of the rosary as a background, I had the opportunity to propose again in synthesis the message of the apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae» and of the Year of the Rosary that we are observing. I invited young people to be ever more men and women of solid interior life, contemplating assiduously, together with Mary, Christ and his mysteries.

This is precisely the most effective antidote to the risks of consumerism, to which the man of today is exposed. To the suggestions of the ephemeral values of the visible world, which a certain kind of technological communication proposes, it is urgent to oppose the lasting values of the spirit, which can only be attained by recollecting oneself interiorly through contemplation and prayer.

Moreover, I was able to see with joy that young people in the midst of their contemporaries know how to become increasingly protagonists of the new evangelization, ready to spend their energies in the service of Christ and his Kingdom. I entrusted to the Virgin the young people of Madrid and of the whole of Spain, who are the future and hope of the Church and of that nation’s society.

3. The following day the solemn eucharistic celebration took place in central Columbus Square. In the presence of the royal family, of the episcopate, and of the authorities of the country, before a vast assembly including representatives of all the ecclesial components, I had the joy to proclaim saints five children of Spain: Pedro Poveda Castroverde, priest and martyr; José María Rubio y Peralta, priest; and religious Genoveva Torres Morales, Ángela de la Cruz and María Maravillas de Jesús.

These authentic disciples of Christ and witnesses of his resurrection are an example for Christians of the whole world: Drawing the necessary strength from prayer, they were able to fulfill the tasks entrusted to them by God in contemplative life, in pastoral ministry, in the educational field, in the apostolate of Spiritual Exercises, in charity toward the poor. May the believers and ecclesial communities of Spain, in particular, be inspired by them, so that in our days also that land blessed by God may continue to produce abundant fruits of evangelical perfection.

To this end, I exhorted the Christians of Spain to remain faithful to the Gospel, to defend and promote the unity of the family, to preserve and renew continually the Catholic identity that is the nation’s source of pride. It will be in virtue of the perennial values of its tradition that that noble country will be able to make its contribution to the construction of the new Europe.

4. This fifth apostolic trip to Spain has confirmed a profound conviction in me: The old nations of Europe retain a Christian spirit, which constitutes a whole with the «genius» and history of the respective peoples. Unfortunately, secularism threatens the fundamental values, but the Church is determined to work to continually maintain alive this spiritual and cultural tradition.

Appealing to the greatness of the Spanish spirit, formed by solid human and Christian principles, I wished to address especially to young people the words of Christ: «You will be my witnesses.» I repeat these words today, assuring the Church and the people of Spain, as well as all of you here present, my prayer strengthened by a special blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father gave this summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to speak briefly today about my Pastoral Visit to Spain last Saturday and Sunday. I thank the Lord for granting me the grace to visit this country for a fifth time, and I am grateful to Their Majesties the King and Queen, to the political and civil authorities, to the Church leaders and to the beloved Spanish people for their enthusiastic and affectionate welcome.

The two principal highlights of my pilgrimage were the meeting with young people on Saturday afternoon and the canonization of five new Saints on Sunday morning. At both these events, I was able to exhort the Christians of Spain to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to promote the unity of the family, and to renew constantly the Catholic identity of the nation. I reminded everyone, and the young people in particular, of Christ’s words, words which I repeat to all present here today: «You will be my witnesses.»

To the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Finland, the Russian Federation, India, Canada, and the United States of America, I offer special greetings. Upon all of you, I cordially invoke the grace and peace of the Risen Savior.

[English text distributed by Vatican press office]

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