Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela's Address to Pope

«Bring Us Words of Life, Which Will Renew Our Hope As Pilgrims»

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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, NOV. 6, 2010 ( Here is the address Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela delivered today at the Mass presided over by Benedict XVI in the Plaza del Obradoiro.

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Welcome, Holy Father, to this Compostelan Archbishopric, to this city of
Santiago, to Galicia, to Spain! The echo of the voice of James the Apostle
continues to resound among us. And multitudes of pilgrims continue to arrive at this church of Santiago de Compostela, which, given its immemorial bonds with the Protomartyr Apostle, deepens its roots in the Gospel of Christ and keeps his memory alive. [These initial lines are pronounced in Galician] [Spanish]

Your Holiness, thanks to God the wish to have you among us has come true. Here we receive you at dusk like the disciples of Emmaus received the Lord, since those who the truth accompanies in their walk cannot be oblivious to charity. Many thanks for having come. I am sure that I can speak in the names of the whole Archbishopric, of the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and priests; of the members of the religious orders and of the laity from sister dioceses, of their Royal Highnesses and of the national, regional and municipal authorities, when I manifest our happiness to receive you. There is a phrase in ancient Galician literature, which describes the fond expectation for someone special. It goes: «I am attending to my Friend.» So thrilled we awaited your arrival.

When we knew you were coming, we found ourselves worshipping God more calmly, in the knowledge that the Successor of Peter would bring us words of life, which will renew our hope as pilgrims on our way to glory. As «Pilgrim of Faith and Witness of the Risen Christ,» you join, Holy Father, so many other pilgrims who this year have participated in the Jubilee graces, remembering the apostolic Tradition and procuring spiritual goods.

Here the Way of Saint James arrives, or the ways, in which «new horizons may be contemplated, which make one ponder about the narrowness of one’s own existence and about the immensity which the human being has within oneself and outside oneself, preparing him to go in search of what his heart really longs for.» A pilgrim always goes back to his roots. Maybe this is why the network of the different ways to Santiago on a map resembles a huge root. And along the way there arise necessary questions, which look for clarifying answers.

Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago … Routes for the spirit of the human being, who rebels against disappearing under the suffocation of materialism. Ways to think and discover why we come to this world. Paths opened by the footsteps of God, giving an answer to the question of why we are not fully happy in our earthly pilgrimage in spite of having tried so many times.

This side of the way of Saint James we need the revitalization of our faith; the ardor and the courage of a new evangelization to announce Christ in fidelity and with pastoral creativity; the strength to continue our pilgrimage; conversion because there are wounds to heal; the profoundness that will rescue us from a dull and anesthetized superficiality which distracts us and makes us forget that the Church in its prophetic mission bears the seal of martyrdom, in order to be a witness of Christ, crucified and resurrected.

Holy Father, we would like to make your agenda go further among us in this beloved land, so welcoming and hospitable, which was once called Finisterre [«land’s end»]. In any case we accompany you with our filial affection and support, which spring from our loyalty and gratitude. We love you and we know you love us. We walk with Your Holiness and we know you walk with us. When you go out to labor in the seas of the world in Peter’s boat, remember that another small boat will be very close: that of Santiago, attentive to any signal that Peter’s boat may send so as to help him as the Gospels tell us.

We want to throw our nets in the name of the Lord like the Twelve did, experiencing once again the astonishment of the results. This afternoon, in union with the successor of Peter, this local Church proclaims that Jesus is the Lord, living synthesis of all our vision of faith, who gives meaning to our life and illuminates our death.

On the Cross, Jesus gave us Mary as mother, whom the beloved disciple, John, welcomed in his house. In the Pilar of Zaragoza, the Apostle Santiago, his brother, was able to confirm in his apostolic anguish and suffering the maternal closeness of the Mother of Jesus. She as a pilgrim always at our side.

Holy Father, when I manifest feelings of profound joy to receive you in Santiago de Compostela, I offer you this House of the Friend of the Lord and in the name of everyone, like the disciples of Emmaus told the Lord, I tell you: «Stay with us, the table is ready,» we want to pray with your Holiness, listen to Your word with faith, in order to loyally follow the guidelines that you may want to give us and we prepare ourselves to participate at the Table of the Eucharist, «bread of the pilgrim people,» to continue our pilgrimage toward the saints reflected in the Portico of Glory, where we can discover how heaven is anticipated on earth, eternity in history, with everything tending toward what is to come in hope. With all our hearts, we say to you: Many thanks, Your Holiness! [these last lines are pronounced in Galician]

+Julián Barrio Barrio
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela

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