Pope Francis with the ceremony this Saturday in Panama of the consecration of the altar of Santa María La Antigua explained that "a Spanish, Indian and African-American cathedral becomes Panamanian cathedral".
"It no longer belongs only to the past, but it is beauty of the present", said Francis at the conclusion of his homily at this cathedral in Panama, where he has been since last Wednesday to participate in the World Youth Day (WYD).
The Pope recalled on Saturday that the Archbishop of Panama, José Domingo Ulloa, has a church again after 7 years.
"He meets his 'wife' again", said the pope, who added that "the church thus ceases to be a widow", and thanked the authorities and all the people for what they did for the restoration of the temple.
The pope said that this church "is once again a lap that pushes to renew and nourish hope, to discover how the beauty of yesterday becomes the basis for building the beauty of tomorrow".
"Brothers, let us not steal the beauty we have inherited from our fathers, may it be the living and fruitful root that will help us to continue making the history of salvation in these lands beautiful and prophetic", concluded Francis.
For the consecration, Francis anointed the four corners of the new altar with oil and then spread it with his hands all over the marble surface.
The relics of the saints Martín de Porras, Oscar Romero, Rosa de Lima and John Paul II were placed on the altar.
"It does not seem to me like a minor event that this Cathedral reopens its doors after a long time of renovation, experienced the passage of time, as a faithful witness of the history of this town, and with the help and work of many wanted to return to give its beauty", said Francis.
The Pope praised that "more than a formal reconstruction, which always tries to return to an original past, sought to rescue the beauty of the years by opening to host all the novelty that the present could give it".
Consecrated in 1796, although its construction began 108 years earlier, the Cathedral Basilica Santa María la Antigua in Panama is located in the Old Quarter of the Panamanian capital, and its restoration is part of a plan for the conditioning of the full area, one of the more tourist of the city.
In the church is the image of Santa María La Antigua made by a Sevillian artist.
The Panamanian Government invested more than 12 million dollars in its restoration.
Also Pope John Paul II visited it in 1983 when he traveled to Panama.
Carlos Alvarado, the president of Costa Rica, as well as Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the president of Portugal, participated in the Mass. Tomorrow it will be announced that the next WYD will be celebrated in Portugal, as the Portuguese bishops leaked weeks ago.
Pope Francis cited in his homily the fatigue of some religious for "the long hours of work that leave little time to eat, rest and be in family", and even the "toxic working conditions that lead to exhaustion and cracking the heart".
He said that this exhaustion "produces not knowing how to react to the intensity and perplexity of the changes that as a society we are going through", and even causes problems "to the very viability of religious life in the world today".
For Francis, "the fatigue of hope is born when we see a Church wounded by its sin and that so many times has not heard so many cries in which the Master's cry was hidden".
And it provokes, he added, "the worst possible heresies for our time: to think that the Lord and our communities have nothing to say or contribute in this new world that is brewing".
"And then it happens that what one day emerged to be salt and light of the world ends up offering its worst version", he said.
Francis then advocated to fight the tired hope and "to return without fear to the founding well of the first love, when Jesus passed by our way, he looked at us with mercy".
"This way we will avoid the risk of starting from ourselves and we will abandon the tiresome self-compassion, to find the eyes with which Christ today continues to seek us, calling and inviting to the mission", he added. ACAN-EFE