Friday 5. March 2021
2004
Santiago 2004 - Day 1



17 April 2004 Pilgrimage opened by Bishop Adrianus van Luyn in Santo Domingo de Silos. Vespers with the monks of Silos and first short walk. Reception and meeting with Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, Member of the European Parliament, and video message from Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission.

Speeches: Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission Bishop A.H. van Luyn Romano Prodi Eminenze, Autorità, Cari amici, sono sinceramente dispiaciuto di non poter essere con voi oggi. E lo sono per molti motivi. Personalmente, ho sempre ritenuto che il cammino di Santiago de Compostela sia un grande evento di continuità delle tradizioni cristiane e culturali della nostra Europa, e un grande messaggio di fede e di comunione che si ripete ogni anno. Un cammino che non conosce frontiere ben più recenti della sua storia, che le sorpassa unendo popoli accomunati dalla ricerca della verità e dalla professione di fede. Gerusalemme, Roma e Santiago de Compostela sono le tre grandi mete del pellegrinaggio di tutti noi cristiani. Come europeo, poi, credo che questo sia un anno particolare per questo cammino, che si ripete nel momento in cui stiamo unendo per la prima volta l?Europa nella pace e nella volontà di condividere stabilità e prosperità con popoli e democrazie da cui la storia recente ci aveva ingiustamente separati. La comunione che si realizza nel Cammino, oggi, deve anche ricordarci che quella stessa fede e quella stessa convinzione ci hanno permesso di abbattere i muri che solcavano l?Europa come delle cicatrici e hanno permesso alla nostra Unione di avere un nuovo, più ampio, respiro. Oggi infatti la nostra Unione, grazie al processo di unificazione continentale, si prepara a realizzare un nuovo ordine europeo respirando con quei due polmoni auspicati dal Sommo Pontefice più di venti anni fa. Quest?anno, quel cammino che sin dall?XI secolo raduna donne e uomini da tutta Europa intorno al santuario di San Giacomo, che affolla le strade di Santiago con tanta gente come il cielo è affollato da tante stelle, celebra anche l?estensione delle nostre stelle europee di pace e solidarietà a tanti nuovi fratelli dell?Europa centrale, orientale e meridionale. Nella città ?capitale spirituale dell?unità europea? dobbiamo oggi ricordare che Chiesa ed Europa sono strettamente legate tra loro e inviare un forte segnale alla nuova Europa, che deve fondarsi su quei valori di rispetto per il prossimo, di fratellanza e di volontà di pace che fanno parte del nostro patrimonio comune di cristiani e di europei. Il cammino di per sé un momento di dialogo e di riconciliazione: quel dialogo e quella riconciliazione sono fondamentali per la costruzione della nuova Europa e per il contributo della nuova Europa alla pace e alla stabilità mondiali. Infine, sono rammaricato per la mia assenza da Presidente della Commissione, poiché in questi anni ho potuto apprezzare il vostro sostegno alla causa europea e beneficiare del vostro contributo alle tante battaglie che abbiamo intrapreso, a cominciare dall?apertura ad un dialogo strutturato con le Comunità religiose che ho voluto introdurre senza aspettare la nuova Costituzione, con il libro bianco sulla Governance europea per arrivare ai vari momenti d?incontro e discussione con la Commissione dell?Episcopato della Comunità Europa (COMECE) su vari aspetti specifici della vita politica comunitaria. La presenza, molto attiva, del vostro ufficio di Bruxelles ha poi ulteriormente contributo a favorire la nostra collaborazione e il nostro dialogo. Questa volta, impegni ufficiali legati al Summit Unione europea ? Cina e ad eventi già programmati in Italia mi hanno impedito di essere con voi oggi. Sperando di poter essere con voi in un futuro molto prossimo, invio a tutti i miei più sinceri saluti e vi esprimo tutto il mio sostengo e la mia amicizia! Bishop A.H. van Luyn s.d.b. This evening marks the start of our European pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela, here in one of the most beautiful abbeys of our continent, the expression of the centuries of Christian culture in Europe. Santo Domingo was founded by Fernan González, Count of Castiglia, in the 10th century, only to be destroyed soon afterwards by order of Al Masour (?the conqueror?), emir of Cordoba. In the 11th century Saint Dominic (1040-1083) reconstructed the abbey and caused it to flourish. His successor Fortunius completed the reconstruction, consecrating the church in 1088. He initiated the building of the double cloister, with Romanesque chapters and bas relief sculptures of exceptional beauty. The architect and the sculptors, who are unknown, seem to be still present in person through their profound understanding of the evangelical faith, their creativity and their symbolism. Little less than one thousand years later, we feel deep gratitude for their artistic creations. This evening, in a significant way in view of our pilgrimage to Compostela, our attention focuses particularly on the famous sculpture of the encounter of Jesus with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus Christ is represented here with the attributes of a medieval pilgrimage: a stick and a pouch. On his bag we see the motif of the shell which is the first sculptured representation of this distinctive sign of the pilgrim on the road to Santiago - commonly known as St. James? shell. Christ is the prototype of the pilgrim. All Christians must follow his example. For the artist, the association was close at hand. For Cleopas, in fact, this stranger whom he and his companion meet on the road to Emmaus is a ?pilgrim? (from the Greek ?paroikeis? in the Vulgate translation). ?Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?? (Lk 24:18). The artist represents Jesus in his mysterious essence, as the Risen Lord, who at the same time is the travelling companion and guide for all his disciples. Here he is before his disciples, considerably taller than them, with an expression that is both questioning and inviting. He calls them to discipleship and points them towards a new world, the heavenly Jerusalem, to which he himself has already opened the way with his passion and death. His two feet are symbolically pointing in different directions: his right foot is turned towards the disciples as an expression of the promise to remain with them on the historic walk, according to what he promised the apostles before ascending into heaven: ?Remember, I am with you? (Mt 28:20). Christ not only walks in step with us but goes before; his has already put his left foot forward, showing the direction. Christ himself, the ?pilgrim? par excellence, is ?the way, the truth and the life? (Jn 14:6). This artistic expression wonderfully matches the interpretation and application of the Emmaus narrative during the Second Special Synod for Europe (1-23 October 1998). The Lineamenta of 1998 refer to this narrative as ?the first new evangelisation, the work of the Lord Jesus, the Master from the very beginning, now risen to his perennial mission as Saviour sent by the Father? and affirm that ?what happened to the two disciples at Emmaus stands before the Church in Europe as an interpretative model for her daily experiences on the continent? (para. 1). The topic of the Synod was ?Jesus Christ alive in his Church, Source of Hope for Europe?. Instrumentum laboris chose precisely the Emmaus episode as a constant frame of reference for the synod: ?the icon? of Europe today? (91). The experience of the two disciples, frustrated and discouraged as they leave the city of Jerusalem after the death on the cross of their friend and master, is the experience of so many women and men of our time and our continent. They have lost the memory of the source of hope that is Christ, their picture of humankind moves further and further way from the awareness that God is the beginning and end of human existence. They find themselves in a crisis regarding the deep meaning of life, and interpersonal relationships of solidarity and cohesion progressively fade. Downcast like the Emmaus disciples, they are prey to confusion and prefer to flee far from the threats and tensions arising from developments in our own continent and worldwide. The euphoric expectations born after the end of the Cold War have largely disappeared because of ever more widespread, unending armed conflicts, fresh wars, the growing divide between poor continents and rich continents, inter-religious and intercultural tensions, and the explosions of terrorism with no concern for anything and anyone. After 11 September 2001 in America ? and other attacks in Bali, Casablanca and Istanbul ? 11 March with the bombs in the Madrid railway stations brought the shameless violence of terrorism to Europe too. ?We had hoped that??. At any rate, Europe is not abandoned to its fate. It still has its Christian roots and, above all, the door is always open for Christ to return, source of all hope (cf. Ecclesia in Europa 18-21). Europe is facing the challenge of again opting for God and for Christ, and allowing itself to be guided by the pedagogy of the Risen Lord. For many Europeans, too, he now seems a stranger, but he is still the companion par excellence of their journey, ready to listen to their concerns and afflictions, to their fears and their hopes, ready to bear witness concerning himself as the way leading towards life through all suffering and death. They can hear him in the words of Scripture, they can encounter him in the stranger who asks for hospitality, and recognise him in the act of breaking bread. Regarding their freedom, but once touched by him in their hearts, they can deliberately opt for his Gospel and join the community of his disciples, in service of the building of his Kingdom of justice and peace in this world. The Emmaus narrative is told by Luke to show us how we ourselves, Emmaus pilgrims of the third millennium, can meet the Risen Lord. This encounter is for us a source of new hope, strength and inspiration to follow Christ and to witness to others about our meeting with him. Naturally this also applies to those of us who have already recognised the Lord and are now his disciples, to whom he has entrusted his Church and his mission. We share ?the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially of those who are poor or in any way afflicted? (GS 1). Like them, the Church is also on a ?pilgrimage? towards the Kingdom of God, but it has received a message of salvation that it has to offer (proponere, GS 2) to all humankind: the same Gospel that Christ revealed to the disciples of Emmaus, when he opened to them the meaning of the Scriptures. The Emmaus narrative ?remains the model today for the Church and her pastoral activity? (Instrumentum laboris 25). In this encounter, in fact, Christ offers us a classical model of his pastoral method. The Emmaus story is an invitation to us to follow his example, so topical and urgent in the Europe of today. 1. The first task is to dialogue effectively with the people of Europe today. Before moving on to catechism it is essential to have an attitude of listening and sincere interest in real people: ?Why are you suffering?? The Second Vatican Council expects the whole people of God to assume this attitude and thus not only pastors and theologians: ?With the help of the Holy Spirit, it is the task of the entire People of God, especially of the pastors and theologians, to hear, distinguish and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that revealed truth can also be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set forth (proponere) to greater advantage? (GS 44). Jesus himself, on the road to Emmaus, take the initiative, asks what is the reason for their sadness, lets them tell their story, walks with them, inspires their trust and makes them ready to listen to his story, that of the Messiah. That way a climate of trust is created, a ? relational? approach that is the precondition of arousing faith in God in the sense of trusting in God who is love. The Second Special Synod for Europe also draws attention to that ?capability of realistically discerning the positive and negative conditions of the faith in the present times without reverting to a hollow optimism or a sterile pessimism, as well as the ability to intervene and foster the forging of a network of love relationships which are being formed by the Spirit himself in today's Europe and which are a reflection of the love of the Blessed Trinity? (Instrumentum laboris 40). This pedagogy of ?relational? trust is an essential prerequisite that is particularly important for pastoral work with young people. 2. Jesus does not let the two disciples go hungry when it comes to his interpretation of the scriptures and his preaching of the Messiah. Faith in him, the Risen Lord, sheds new light on his passion and death, and thus all suffering and death, offering a new prospect of liberation, of hope of spending eternal life in his glory. Today it is up to us to proclaim Christ as Messiah, the universal redeemer of all. Naturally we will never succeed in doing this the penetrating and convincing way of our Lord himself on the Walk to Emmaus. He spoke of himself. As for us, we take up his story, but as a story also determining the meaning of our lives, a story that inspires our own life, a story that sustains us and enables us to keep going. We have received that story, our hearts ?burned within us ... on the road?, and they still do burn. And so the flame can pass to the hearts of others. Our personal encounter with Christ, our personal and spiritual experience of God, our welcoming openness to the working of the Holy Spirit are basic conditions for the credibility of our preaching. 3. Having arrived in Emmaus the Lord ?walked ahead as if he were going on? but, when pressed, he entered their home. They invited the stranger ? for such he still was ? to stay for supper. Then he reverses the roles: he turns from guest to host. He breaks the bread for them. He repeats the gesture of the last supper, giving himself to his disciples. At the same moment their eyes are opened, and when he has vanished from their sight, they both return to Jerusalem. The Church is also called to follow this example of the Lord, just as we, like his disciples, are called to follow him. ?This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one?s life for one?s friends? Jn 15:12-13. Playing play host to the stranger. It seems that this is not a very popular occupation in Europe today. Europe on the road to union seems to be having trouble when it comes to receiving all the ethnic groups from the accession countries. In addition, it is raising barricades to block the flow of political and economic refugees from other continents, more poor and often almost completely forgotten (thinking particularly of Africa!). However, it still remains a great evangelical challenge to provide effective solidarity with the stranger, with whoever is hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and a prisoner. While, as disciples of the Lord, we are committed to the practice of ?works of charity? in the private sphere, it is up to the authorities to create ?structures of justice? in the public sphere, at almost all levels, national and international. The European Union, by virtue of its shared responsibility at the global level, will have to commit itself to peace and justice in the whole world (cf. Ecclesia in Europe 111-112), providing room for ?forms of intelligent welcome and hospitality? to the phenomenon of migration (Ecclesia in Europa 101) . The Church too is called to provide ?services of welcome? and ?pastoral attention? of immigrants (ibid., 103): Faced with this task the Church must remain aware of its own condition as a pilgrim church. The Lord?s disciples follow in the footsteps of the one who is the pilgrim par excellence. The ?attributes of the pilgrim? ? the wooden stick recalling the wood of the cross, and the pouch, small and open at the top, not closed to the travelling companions ? recalls the sobriety that keeps an eye on its own interest and yet creates space for solidarity with fellow pilgrims, and for the gift of himself in following the Lord. 4. Finally, Emmaus is not the final destination. That very evening the disciples return to Jerusalem, the city of the resurrection, of the Paschal Gospel, to share their experiences of faith with other disciples. The Risen Lord is companion and guide along the road towards the heavenly Jerusalem: the City of God, the place of authentic human conviviality, the ideal city. A city set on a hill. The city with the twelve gates, the city that no longer needs the light of the sun nor a temple because God himself is its temple and Christ its light (cf. Rev 21:22-23 and Instrumentum laboris 35). The faith in the Paschal Gospel is a ?dynamic? faith, helping us to put all earthly conquests into perspective ? even the European Union is not the final goal, but only a means ? and keeping alive in us the awareness that human existence is an earthly pilgrimage, while the final destination is the City of God, where the Lord has gone before and towards which he is guiding us. This pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela, representing the 25 countries that will be part of the European Union from 1 May, is for us the opportunity to undertake a serious examination of conscience regarding the Church on this continent (Instrumentum laboris 91). The 1999 Synod pointed out the risk of a certain flagging of the energy with which the Church carries out its own mission, and which calls us to pursue ?a more challenging and innovative pastoral activity? (Instrumentum laboris 36), ?a renewed Christian proclamation , which will help individuals and nations to combine freedom and truth, while providing spiritual and ethical foundations for the economic and political unification of the continent? (ibid. 37). The story of the Walk to Emmaus offers us precious elements for witnessing to the Gospel in a comprehensible and credible way: in dialogue with the people of our age ? in particular with young people. This will require core groups of convinced disciples of the Lord, more ?witnesses? than ?teachers? (Instrumentum laboris 57). The presence and activity of Christians ? men and women ? appear a determining factor. They must know how to place respect for each person and the different human communities into Europe?s life and the forces working towards its unification, recognising the spiritual, cultural and social aspects of these elements so as to give hope to the many who have lost it and to favour the integration into society of the many who live on the continent and settle there? (Instrumentum laboris 83). The pilgrimage we are beginning this evening here at Santo Domingo invites us, so to speak, to repeat in the next few days the ?spiritual adventure of the disciples on the Walk to Emmaus? (cf. the Message of the Second Special Synod of Bishops for Europe, October 1999). Let us look, as in a mirror, at the sculpture of the two disciples in the cloister of this abbey. The disciple on the left respectfully holds the book containing the Scriptures, of which the mysterious stranger explains the meaning and the direction along the road. Lost in meditation he looks ahead; he is on the point of embarking on the adventure of faith and discipleship; his feet are already pointing towards the Lord ahead of him. The disciple in the middle is almost completely turned towards the Lord. Full of confidence he holds out his left hand towards the Lord?s shoulder and his right hand is turned towards the other, making a gesture very similar to that of the Lord. His eyes look in the same direction as those of Jesus - he is already walking in his footsteps. This pilgrimage to Santiago may mean for each of us an opportunity to grow in the faith of the Risen Lord, when he talks to us on the road, and when we recognise him in the breaking of bread. May our hearts burn within us so that on leaving Compostela ? our Emmaus in these few days - we may turn with new courage towards the Jerusalem of the Christian communities of our dioceses, to testify in our continent to ?Jesus Christ alive in his Church, source of hope for Europe?.

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