Santiago de Compostela (AsiaNews) – Man can not live without freedom, and without truth and " Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom." This the first message addressed by Benedict XVI to Spain, where he arrived this morning at 11.30. The first leg of the two day visit is Santiago de Compostela, the culmination of the "Way" that down through the centuries has seen pilgrims from around the world come to pay homage to the Apostle James.
On arrival, a foggy day, the Pope was greeted by the Prince of Asturias, Felipe and Letizia of Spain, with whom, after the welcoming ceremony, he also had a private meeting.
Benedict XVI, from his arrival, called himself a pilgrim. "I wish to join the great host of men and women who down the centuries have come to Compostela from every corner of this peninsula, from throughout Europe and indeed the whole world, in order to kneel at the feet of Saint James and be transformed by the witness of his faith". "In his deepest being, - he continued - man is always on a journey, ever in search of truth. The Church shares this profound human desire and herself sets out, accompanying humanity in its yearning for complete fulfilment. At the same time, the Church pursues her own interior journey which, through faith, hope and love, leads her to become a transparent sign of Christ for the world. This is her mission and her path".
“Like the Servant of God John Paul II, who from Compostela exhorted the old Continent to give a new impulse to its Christian roots, I too wish to encourage Spain and Europe to build their present and to project their future on the basis of the authentic truth about man, on the basis of the freedom which respects this truth and never harms it, and on the basis of justice for all, beginning with the poorest and the most defenceless. A Spain and a Europe concerned not only with people’s material needs but also with their moral and social, spiritual and religious needs, since all these are genuine requirements of our common humanity and only in this way can work be done effectively, integrally and fruitfully for man’s good”.
The new call for Europe to revitalize Christian roots, had a precedent during the flight that brought the Pope in Spain. Meeting, as is custom, the journalists who accompany him, Benedict XVI, speaking of the Spanish situation, called for a "'meeting between faith and secularism that does not clash” as they do today. Referring to the country led by Zapatero, he spoke of a "very strong clash " underway "between faith and modernity" and called for dialogue and not confrontation.
Leaving the airport, the Pope, greeted by a crowds that lined the ten kilometres leading to the cathedral, has travelled, as every pilgrim, the last part of the "Way", entering the cathedral from the Azbacheria Gate. Passing through the “Portico de la Gloria”, he came to greet the faithful gathered in Plaza del Obradoiro and exiting through the Royal door he entered the cathedral through the Holy Door. Inside the cathedral, he descended into the crypt to venerate the tomb of the Apostle and, following an ancient tradition, embraced the statue of St. James, before the high altar.
"In this Holy Year of Compostela, - he then said - I too, as the Successor of Peter, wished to come in pilgrimage to the “House of Saint James”, as it prepares to celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of its consecration. "
"As I embraced the venerable statue of the Saint, I also prayed for all the children of the Church, which has her origin in the mystery of the communion that is God. Through faith we are introduced to the mystery of love that is the Most Holy Trinity. We are in some sense embraced by God, transformed by his love. The Church is this embrace of God, in which men and women learn also to embrace their brothers and sisters and to discover in them the divine image and likeness which constitutes the deepest truth of their existence, and which is the origin of genuine freedom".
"Truth and freedom are closely and necessarily related. Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom. One cannot live without the other. The Church, which desires to serve unreservedly the human person and his dignity, stands at the service of both truth and freedom. She cannot renounce either, because what is at stake is man himself, because she is moved by love for man, “the only creature on earth which God has wanted for its own sake” (Gaudium et Spes, 24), and because without this aspiration for truth, justice and freedom, man would lose his very self".