MADRID, Spain, NOV. 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- With his visit this weekend to Spain, Benedict XVI will fulfill two desires he has had for a long time: to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and to contemplate Barcelona’s Church of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), designed by Antonio Gaudí.
Isidro Catela, director of the press office of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, said this Tuesday during an informative press breakfast at the conference’s headquarters in Madrid, during which he reviewed the intense program of the Holy Father’s visit, which should last 32 hours.
On Saturday and Sunday, Benedict XVI will visit the two Spanish cities of Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona for the first time. Catela reported that the Pope had made plans in the past to visit Santiago de Compostela with his brother, as well as the Holy Family Church in Barcelona, but in the end it was not possible.
The spokesman said that on Sunday in Barcelona, the Holy Father will consecrate the Church of the Holy Family, and designate the church a basilica. He added that the Pontiff will also visit the Spanish charity “Niño Dios” (God-child), which was founded with the mission to care for persons with Down syndrome.
“However, at present,” the spokesman explained, “the number of these persons has decreased notably given that a good many of them are eliminated before being born.”
“Legislation has propitiated this,” he added, “which sees abortion as a ‘right’ and includes it among the allegedly necessary means to care for health.”
During the Pope’s visit to the charity, Catela continued, “the great work done by the Church in the defense of the dignity of all human life, from conception until natural death, as well as the life of all, regardless of physical, psychic or intellectual capacities, will be highlighted.”
Benedict XVI will meet with the king and queen of Spain, Juan Carlos I and Sophía, in the museum hall of the Holy Family Church on Sunday. On Saturday, he will greet the Prince of Asturias, Felipe, son of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sophía, and the Princess of Asturias, the prince’s wife, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, in Santiago de Compostela.
The Holy Father will also hold a brief meeting with Spain’s president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in Barcelona’s El Prat airport before the farewell ceremony, and in Santiago de Compostela the Pontiff will greet in Mariano Rajoy, who is a member of the conservative People’s Party and the leader of the opposition in the Spanish Parliament.
For this two-day papal visit, 3,250 journalists of 327 news outlets have been accredited, 646 of whom will follow the whole trip. Only 931 will be in Santiago, and 1,673 will be in Barcelona.
It is estimated that the television audience will reach some 150 million viewers.