Pope in Spain urges Europe to keep spiritual roots
(Photo: Pope Benedict at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, November 6, 2010/Stefano Rellandini)
Pope Benedict, on a lightning trip to Spain, urged Europe on Saturday to re-discover God and its Christian heritage and also denounced the country’s liberal abortion laws.
“Europe must open itself to God, must come to meet him without fear,” he said in the sermon of a Mass for more than 20,000 people in the square of Santiago de Compostela, which has been a major pilgrimage destination since medieval times.
Spain’s Roman Catholic Church, whose image was stained by its close relationship with Francisco Franco during his 36-year dictatorship, has clashed with the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero over gay rights and abortion. Read the full story by Cristina Fuentes-Cantillana in English here and in Spanish here.
One of the main themes of Benedict’s papacy — and an aim of the Spanish trip — has been what the Church calls the “re-evangelisation” of Europe, an attempt to urge people to return to their religious roots despite living in highly secularised societies.
Upon arrival on Saturday morning, the pope spoke of the need to defend “the most defenceless,” and in the afternoon he decried “public silence with regard to the first and essential reality of human life” — references to abortion. Click here for his sermon in Spanish or in English translation.
Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, has been a major pilgrimage destination since medieval times and is seen as a symbol of Europe’s Christian heritage.
(Photo: Pope Benedict watches the ‘botafumeiro’ as it’s swung by incense carriers inside Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, November 6, 2010/Stefano Rellandini)
While in the cathedral, he watched as the famous botafumeiro ( “smoke expeller”), one of the world’s largest censers or thuribles, swung from over the heads of the faithful to fill the nave with the aromatic smoke. The silver-covered incense burner weighs about 80 kg and measures 1.60 m in height.
Over at America magazine’s In All Things blog, Austen Ivereigh says it “was used in the Middle Ages to purify the air of the cathedral made disagreeable by stinking, sweaty pilgrims. The first record of it appears in the world’s first tourist guide book, the 12th century Codex Calixtinus, which calls it a Turibulum Magnum.”