Tuesday, July 04, 2006
World Meeting of Families
Tomorrow morning I'm travelling to Valencia with a group of young families from the parish. We are going to the fifth World meeting of Families taking place in that city this week. On Friday Pope Benedict arrives and we look forward to being in the crowd to welcome him. It will be like World Youth Day - but even bigger as they are expecting more than a million participants. It is a very difficult trip for Pope Benedict. His predecessor visted Spain more than any other foreign country and always received a rapturous reception.
At a meeting with 800,000 young people in the Cuantro Vientos airfield, John Paul II encouraged them to seek Christ, to listen to his call and to follow him. A young seminarian stood up and gave his testimony. He said: "Holy Father, when I was an adolescent I heard you speak in Madrid. You told us that if we hear Christ's call in our hearts saying, Come, follow me! Do not silence it. Holy Father, although there were thousands of us present at that encounter, I heard your words as if the Pope was speaking to me personally. I know the same is true for many of my fellow seminarians. I want to say thank you, Holy Father, because of your witness and example, there are now hundreds of young men in this country who are studying to become priests".
It is hard to imagine Pope Benedict wagging a finger or shaking a stick at crowds of young people. But they love him nonetheless, because he was the collaborator of their beloved John Paul; becuase he is a teacher; and - above all - because he is the successor of St Peter.
In Spain at present the family is under attack from an anti-clerical government which is seeking to push all sorts of alternative life styles as equivalent to the family. You may have heard of the moves to abolish terms like 'mother' and 'father' because they discriminate against children who may, under current legislation, have two 'mothers' or two 'fathers'! Even if it will be ignored by the British press, the eyes of Spain and of the world are looking towards Pope Benedict this weekend. Spain is the land of matadors. Let's pray for Pope Benedict as he takes up the sword against the latest bull!
I guess it's going to be hard to keep posting this week. So here's possibly till next Monday evening...