Spain Trip Seen as Reinforcing Papal Priority

Father Lombardi, Giovanni Vian Offer Evaluations

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By Jesús Colina

ROME, NOV. 9, 2010 ( Vatican spokesmen are suggesting that Benedict XVI’s two-day trip to Spain reinforced a main objective of his pontificate: presenting the love of God as the priority of existence.

This was the evaluation proposed by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano. The Holy Father was in Spain last Saturday and Sunday, visiting Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona.

Vian described the trip by saying that «the Successor of Peter has shown even more clearly the meaning of his way and of the Church: to present God to the world — God who is men’s friend and has invited them to his house.»

The L’Osservatore Romano director reflected that a taste of the beauty of God’s house can be savored in Santiago and in Barcelona. He spoke of the «visionary artist and genuine Christian,» Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), who designed Barcelona’s Church of the Holy Family as a «search for God» raised in «the center of the city of men.»

«In this way, [mankind] can contemplate [God’s] presence among them, his ineffable wonder, and be able to receive him,» Vian said.

While in Barcelona, the Pontiff dedicated the church and declared it a minor basilica.

Beauty and faith

For his part, Father Lombardi spoke of the papal trip by noting that the «priority of this pontificate» is to proclaim the primacy of God.
«God was truly at the center of the addresses, both in the first as well as in the second stage, as the encounter with God is the objective of pilgrimage,» he said. «The Pope thinks a lot about the neglect of God and indifference to transcendence in our culture and in our time and, therefore, feels committed to reminding men about the fundamental relationship with God.»
«From Santiago, the Pope also addressed very strong words linked to the theme of God and the Christian roots of Europe,» Father Lombardi continued. «He warned Europe, with an impassioned admonition, about what it would become if it forgets the meaning of the crosses found at the intersections of our streets and thus fails to make reference to the value of love and of God’s giving himself to us and our giving ourselves to others in our life.
«In the Barcelona stage, I think the topic of the union between truth and beauty, between faith and art, art and liturgy of the Church, was expressed in a truly unique way because of the setting where the celebration took place. I don’t think that during this pontificate another liturgy of consecration has taken place in such an environment, so expressive of the richness of the meanings of this liturgy.»
Getting the message
Father Lombardi affirmed that the Spanish Catholics who followed this visit, in particular participants in the two Eucharistic celebrations, understood well the Pope’s message.
«People, if they listen, understand,» the Jesuit said. «I think we are before a message that goes through an event with all its complexity and richness. In a certain sense, in this consists the mysterious beauty of the liturgy of the Church, as it expresses through deeds, words, songs and in this case also through the artistic forms of sculpture and architecture, the richness of a message.»
The Vatican spokesman concluded by saying that the consecration of Gaudí’s basilica will have «an important meaning» for history: It will be for the Church «a message of commitment to give ever more attention to the dignity of the language with which the sacred reality is expressed, the relationship with God and the life of the Christian community.»

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