Archbishop of Barcelona: “2,000 million people will watch the event. They will watch Barcelona.”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona responded to criticisms associated with the Pope’s upcoming visit in an interview with CNA. A controversy has been going on in Catalonia regarding the costs of Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona, when he will bless the famous Sagrada Família church and declare it a basilica. Public administrations will pay for the security and disturbance costs associated with the visit. Laicism groups have protested for the use of public money.

CNA / Maria Bélmez

October 26, 2010 11:13 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach, responded to rising criticism regarding the Pope’s visit to Barcelona, scheduled for the 6th and 7th of November. Benedict XVI is coming mainly to bless the famous Sagrada Família church, designed by the Art Nouveau and renowned artist Antoni Gaudí. Many streets will have to be blocked for the Sagrada Família event, and some neighbours will not be able to access their homes for hours. In addition to these disturbances, security is mostly being provided by public administrations and thus paid for with public money. All of these facts have been criticised by pro-Laicism and atheist groups, together with some political parties and media. Today, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, top Catholic figure in Catalonia and main person responsible for the Pope’s visit, answered the critiques. He stressed that an audience of 2,000 million people will watch the Pope’s visit, according to media experts. “They will view the Sagrada Família. They will view Barcelona,” he said. Then he asked, “Which Barcelonan would not like their city to be viewed by such an audience?”

According to Martínez-Sistach, the Pope’s visit will generate worthy publicity for the Sagrada Família and Barcelona in general. “He is coming to Barcelona; we should be happy about it”. He asked, “How many cities in the world would like to host the Pope?”. The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona pointed out that Barcelona previously hosted Jean Paul II’s visit on the 7th of November 1982. He stressed that it is a privilege to host 2 popes.

Martínez-Sistach recognised that the Pope’s visit has mainly a religious dimension, but also a citizen dimension. He compared it to the media dimension of the 1992 Olympics, as he affirmed the visit would be followed by 2,000 million people, according to a media expert he quotes. Martínez-Sistach made a call to the citizens to participate in the event and to celebrate the Pope’s visit in the streets.