BARCELONA, Spain, FEB. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Barcelona is affirming that Benedict XVI expressed interest in an invitation to consecrate the Sagrada Familia Church in that city, though he has not yet confirmed.
The church, designed by Antoni Gaudí, has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.
However, this September, a portion of the building's completed interior is set to be opened for worship and tours.
Barcelona's archbishop, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, invited the Pope to consecrate the church before it is opened for use.
He reported this Wednesday in a press conference at his episcopal palace, which was held for the beatification of Venerable José Tous y Soler, a Capuchin priest and founder who died in 1871 in Barcelona.
The cardinal stated that "the Holy Father was interested in the invitation because of what the Sagrada Familia is and signifies as a church of the universal genius of architect Antoni Gaudí, whose cause of canonization is under way."
He added that this church, named after the Holy Family, also has special significance "given the extreme importance the family has for the Holy Father, since the good of persons, of society and of the Church are directly related to the protection, defense and promotion of the family."
The Sagrada Familia is a religious monument which has been declared patrimony of humanity. It draws some 3 million visitors every year.
The archbishop of Barcelona clarified that "there is still no confirmation of this trip of the Pope to Barcelona to dedicate or consecrate the Sagrada Familia, as it depends on the Holy Father's calendar of trips."
The cardinal noted that the Pontiff "gives much importance to art, to beauty as a way to God."
He recalled, for example, Benedict XVI's Nov. 21 meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, and his address to them that was "very rich in content and very affectionate."
Cardinal Martínez Sistach noted that the Pope affirmed on that occasion that "artists speak to humanity's heart." He asked them to be, through their art, "witnesses and heralds of hope for humanity."
19 febbraio 2010
Barcelona Invites Pope to Consecrate Gaudí Church
Cardinal Notes Benedict XVI's Appreciation for Art