11/07/2010, 00.00
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Pope: support for the full realization of women, marriage and life

In Barcelona during the ceremony of dedication of the Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia Benedict XVI contends that the indissoluble union between a man and a woman and life be protected and promoted "at a juridical, social and legal" level. The building is a “splendid” church, a, "wonderful synthesis of technology, art and faith," a "holy environment of enchanting beauty," "praise of God, made of stone." "Show everyone that God is God of peace and non violence, of freedom and not restraint, harmony and not discord."

Barcelona (AsiaNews) - The State must defend and promote the family, allowing the full realization of women, supporting the indissoluble union between a man and a woman and working so that life of children may be defended as “sacred and inviolable".  This, the "invocation" that the Church makes, in the words that Pope Benedict XVI pronounced in the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona which, as of today, is open for worship.

Central to the appointment of this the second and final day of his trip to Spain, Pope Benedict XVI arrived at the basilica around 9.30 am and before the celebration of Mass, met King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia in the church Museum. As yesterday, with the Prince of Asturias, Felipe and Letizia of Spain, the monarchs participated in the rite, held in the church which the Pope defined as “splendid”, a "wonderful synthesis of technology, art and faith," a "holy environment of enchanting beauty," "praise to God, made of stone". The pope also spoke of its creator Antoni Gaudí, as a "brilliant architect and Christian”.  The basilica, the construction of which began in 1882, is still not finished.

Already during the flight to Spain yesterday, speaking with journalists, the Pope had called the cathedral a "sign for our own time" and today the celebration of the Mass, the rite of its consecration, gave him occasion to praise this work by the great architect, whose cause of beatification is ongoing.

 What do we do when we dedicate this church? – he pondered - In the heart of the world, placed before God and mankind, with a humble and joyful act of faith, we raise up this massive material structure, fruit of nature and an immense achievement of human intelligence which gave birth to this work of art. It stands as a visible sign of the invisible God, to whose glory these spires rise like arrows pointing towards absolute light and to the One who is Light, Height and Beauty itself. In this place, Gaudí desired to unify that inspiration which came to him from the three books which nourished him as a man, as a believer and as an architect: the book of nature, the book of sacred Scripture and the book of the liturgy. In this way he brought together the reality of the world and the history of salvation, as recounted in the Bible and made present in the liturgy. He made stones, trees and human life part of the church so that all creation might come together in praise of God, but at the same time he brought the sacred images outside so as to place before people the mystery of God revealed in the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this way, he brilliantly helped to build our human consciousness, anchored in the world yet open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ. In this he accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty. Antoni Gaudí did this not with words but with stones, lines, planes, and points. Indeed, beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness”.

The rite of dedication - with the anointing of the altar and the walls of the church, the incense and the lighting of the altar and the church - Benedict XVI also tied a personal note, recalling that the building, from its very origins, is closely tied to the figure of St. Joseph - the building was the initiative of the Associació Espiritual de Sant Josep de Devots (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph) – he noted that it "is not without significance that the Pope whose baptismal name is Joseph is the one to dedicate it. "

And that fact that it is dedicated to the Hoy Family also gave Benedict XVI the opportunity to launch his “invocation” in favour of families. The family, he recalled in his address to faithful gathered in the square before the basilica for the Angelus prayer, in which Jesus “became man, and who, under the watchful care of Joseph and Mary, in the silence of the home of Nazareth, taught us without words of the dignity and the primordial value of marriage and the family, the hope of humanity, in which life finds its welcome from conception to natural death”. In fact, during Mass he had said that “for this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family”.

With this call in favour of the family and life, launched in a country that is introducing legislation of secularist leanings – such as gay marriage and fast track divorces – in a certain way Benedict XVI once again renewed his hope for an “encounter and not clash” between faith and secular mentality of which he had spoken on his arrival. God, he said yesterday in Santiago de Compostela  is not “man’s antagonist [or] an enemy of his freedom”. “This – he said today - is the great task before us: to show everyone that God is a God of peace not of violence, of freedom not of coercion, of harmony not of discord. In this sense, I consider that the dedication of this church of the Sagrada Familia is an event of great importance, at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him”. Listening to his words, gathered before giant screens in the square, an estimated half a million people.

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