Pope Francis with members of the group Pope Francis with members of the group  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope: Like our cities, we build future with an eye to the past

Meeting with members of the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group, Pope Francis says people build their cities and cultures by mixing faith in God with their historical situations.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis held an audience on Saturday with members of the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group, which was set up in 1993 to defend their cities’ historic and cultural heritage.

Welcoming the representatives of various Spanish cities to Vatican City State, the Pope said the world’s smallest state preserves a rich heritage, as does the cities of which they serve as guardians.

In his prepared remarks, he noted that humanity’s desire to protect its cultural heritage should encompass both the artistic-cultural field and the “integrity of the person who receives this legacy and of the peoples who have transmitted it to us.”

“Historical situations – with their lights and shadows,” he said, “speak to us of real men and women, of genuine feelings, which should be lessons of life for us, rather than of pieces in a museum.”

Learning lessons of the past

Pope Francis prayed that God might help the guardians of the cultural heritage of Spain’s cities transmit their beauty and the “faith, hope, and charity of your people.”

“It is the sufferings and aspirations of the people who over time have built their cities, the mixing of cultures and civilizations that have followed one another in them, and naturally their faith in God, that make their hearts beat with passion,” he said.

Cities and their cultural monuments invite residents and visitors alike to reflect on the strength and prudence of those who built them.

“May they feel challenged by the lesson of justice and temperance that each historical situation encompasses,” he said.

Striving toward the future

Instead of leaving the past locked in a museum, the heritage of cities should help people today to build a better future.

“We will thus speak of peoples, of persons, of a history that is not merely contemplated, but realized, with one eye on the past and the other on the future, to always have our hands in the present that questions us every day.”

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13 April 2024, 10:59