Pope Benedict XVI prayed that the 121 foot-tall monument overlooking the city of Lima, Peru will “inspire everyone to grow in the love of God and neighbor.”
He encouraged Peruvians to “work tirelessly in the building of an ever more just, unified and fraternal society, in a climate of respect and diligent collaboration in the search for the common good,” according to the newspaper El Comercio.
The Pope's words came in a June 24 message for the blessing of the massive “Christ of the Pacific” statue on June 24.
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima read the message during the ceremony of blessing, which was attended by the country's former President Alan Garcia, the current Minister of Defense, Jaime Thorne, and other officials.
The construction of the Christ of the Pacific was harshly criticized by the liberal media and by some politicians, including the mayor of Lima, Susana Villaran.
“It’s very easy to find reasons to criticize,” he continued. “We could talk about so many investments—without getting into details in order to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes—so many areas where there is useless spending. I think this is a small expense because it is a donation,” the cardinal noted. He said his own personal intention regarding the project is “to reconcile and not divide.”
“This investment which was a donation from a Brazilian company as I understand it—how could it not motivate us to be thankful? Let’s not be troublemakers. The Christ of the Pacific is a great work that has been beautifully made and received with great joy by the people,” the cardinal said.
He pointed out that the suburb of Chorrillos, where the statue is located, will pay for the maintenance expenses for the new monument, but if necessary the people would step in to ensure its preservation.
Cardinal Cipriani told reporters, “The people in general are very happy and you will see that this place will become a pilgrimage site. For this reason, let us not focus on our differences but rather let us seek out unity.”
The Christ of the Pacific is a 121 foot-tall statue that sits on a 49 foot-wide base and can be seen from various points in the Peruvian capital. It will be official inaugurated on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.