On plane to Spain, pope talks about art and faith

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO SPAIN – Without the desire for truth and the search for the transcendent, art and individuals’ lives are incomplete, Pope Benedict XVI said at the start of a two-day journey to the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela and the cultural beauty of Barcelona.

When he consecrates the still incomplete architectural and artistic wonder of Barcelona’s Church of the Sagrada Familia Nov. 7, the pope will also highlight the importance of the Holy Family as a model for today’s families.

“God had his son born in a family and he calls us to build” and support the family, which is the basic and most fundamental cell of society, he said Nov. 6 in response to journalists’ questions aboard the papal plane.

The church dedicated to the Holy Family brings to light “the problem of the family and the (need for the) renewal of the family,” which are major concerns still today, he said.

The Holy Family of Nazareth “shows us where we can go both in building society” and in reuniting faith and religion with society, he said.

The pope said the church of the Sagrada Familia, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and begun in 1882, is a splendid example of the natural synthesis of tradition and novelty as well as of faith and art.

Humanity’s search for truth and beauty finds its expression in art, he said. “We need beauty,” he said.

For centuries the church served as “the mother of art,” generating countless paintings, musical compositions, and other priceless works handed down to generations today, he said.

But today there is “a certain dissonance” between the world of art and religion, he said, and “this hurts both art and faith.”

Art that is no longer rooted in the transcendent “would be an art that is incomplete,” he said.

Art and faith need to be brought back together again and be in dialogue, he said, because truth is expressed in beauty and in beauty one finds the truth.

“Therefore, where there is truth, beauty must emerge,” he said.

Civil society also needs to be open to the transcendent and Christian values, he said.

In Spain, he said, the trend toward “anticlericalism and secularism” was especially marked in the 1930s, which created “a clash between society and faith that also exists today.”

He said faith and society must come together, not be wedged apart.

Pope Benedict said a major theme of the trip is that of pilgrimage, which he said was an important element of his life and pontificate. His coat of arms details the shell which symbolizes the pilgrim’s journey to Santiago de Compostela, where tradition holds St. James the Greater is buried.

Life is both an inner journey of deepening one’s faith every day and an outward search for God in other people, he said.

When embarking on an actual pilgrimage to another place, “one transcends oneself, transcends the everyday world and in that way one also finds a new freedom,” he said.

Through pilgrimage, one discovers an inner peace and in making the journey with others, discovers the common bond that unites all humanity and learns to see God in the face of the other, he said.

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