11/06/2010, 00.00
VATICAN - SPAIN
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Pope in Spain: God is not an enemy of human freedom

At the Mass celebrated in Santiago de Compostela, Benedict XVI says that the Europe "of civilization and culture" must be open "to fraternity with other continents," to "the true and living God." The "tragedy" of secularism was born in the nineteenth century.

Santiago de Compostela (AsiaNews) – “The Europe of civilization and culture" must be open "to the fraternity with other continents", to " the true and living God” and abandon the “tragic” belief that "that God is somehow man’s antagonist and an enemy of his freedom". In Spain today, led by a government that is introducing practices and values far from Christian ones - from abortion to gay marriage, to fast-track divorces - Benedict XVI has strongly reaffirmed the need for the Old continent to return to and reinvigorate its Christian roots.

This is the idea that he first put forward this morning, in the ancient cathedral dedicated to the Apostle James - for centuries a favourite destination of pilgrimages - and later this afternoon he  returned to it in the Plaza del Obradoiro of Santiago de Compostela, where he celebrated Mass in Jubilee Year of Compostela, in front of tens of thousands of people who filled the main square and the surrounding areas, following the ceremony on giant screens.

The Pope - who at the end of the rite travels to Barcelona - was inspired by the words of the Gospel of Matthew, where it says that Jesus came to serve, " to give his life in ransom for many". " a service that is not measured by worldly standards of what is immediate, material or apparent, but one that makes present the love of God to all in every way and bears witness to him even in the simplest of actions. Proposing this new way of dealing with one another within the community, based on the logic of love and service, Jesus also addresses “the rulers of the nations” since, where self-giving to others is lacking, there arise forms of arrogance and exploitation that leave no room for an authentic integral human promotion".

And this is the message that the Gospel brings, “tragically, above all in nineteenth century Europe, the conviction grew that God is somehow man’s antagonist and an enemy of his freedom. As a result, there was an attempt to obscure the true biblical faith in the God who sent into the world his Son Jesus Christ, so that no one should perish but that all might have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16). The author of the Book of Wisdom, faced with a paganism in which God envied or despised humans, puts it clearly: how could God have created all things if he did not love them, he who in his infinite fullness, has need of nothing (cf. Wis 11:24-26)? Why would he have revealed himself to human beings if he did not wish to take care of them? God is the origin of our being and the foundation and apex of our freedom, not its opponent. How can mortal man build a firm foundation and how can the sinner be reconciled with himself? How can it be that there is public silence with regard to the first and essential reality of human life? How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows? We cannot live in darkness, without seeing the light of the sun. How is it then that God, who is the light of every mind, the power of every will and the magnet of every heart, be denied the right to propose the light that dissipates all darkness? This is why we need to hear God once again under the skies of Europe; may this holy word not be spoken in vain, and may it not be put at the service of purposes other than its own. It needs to be spoken in a holy way. And we must hear it in this way in ordinary life, in the silence of work, in brotherly love and in the difficulties that years bring on”.

"Allow me here to point out the glory of man - concluded the pope - and to indicate the threats to his dignity resulting from the privation of his essential values and richness, and the marginalization and death visited upon the weakest and the poorest. One cannot worship God without taking care of his sons and daughters; and man cannot be served without asking who his Father is and answering the question about him. The Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilization and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man. This is what the Church wishes to contribute to Europe: to be watchful for God and for man, based on the understanding of both which is offered to us in Jesus Christ".

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