POPE Benedict XVI sprinkled holy water to consecrate Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church and used the opportunity slam Spain’s new abortion laws.
Transforming the masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi into a Basilica, the 83-year-old pontiff blessed the massive stone altar as singing from an 800-voice chorus rang out under the vaulted ceilings of the huge church during a special dedication mass.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims and locals welcomed the pontiff, lining the streets of Barcelona as he paraded in his Popemobile to the landmark spires of the Sagrada Familia.
He later addressed the congregation and, in a clear reference to abortion just four months after Spain passed laws easing women’s access to the operation, the pontiff said the Church always supported life.
“For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family,” he said in a reference to the Church opposition to all abortion.
The pope, who was faced by a gay kiss-in protest as he traveled to the Sagrada Familia, also defended the traditional pairing of man and woman.
“There also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, in as much as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end.”
Some 6500 guests including hundreds of priests and bishops witnessed the consecration of the building, where work continues 128 years after the first stone was laid.
With the consecration, the main nave is open for daily mass for the first time since the first stone was laid March 19, 1882. Until now mass has been held in the crypt, Gaudi’s last resting place.