New Church of Scientology Opens in Madrid
Actor Tom Cruise addresses the thousands in attendance.
Waving flags and cheering, thousands of people from throughout Spain, Europe and the United States crowded into Calle de Santa Catalina in the capital Saturday to celebrate the Grand Opening of the magnificent new premises of the Church of Scientology of Madrid. After a moving ceremony featuring speeches from Scientology executives and leading Spanish human rights advocates, the President of the new Church, Maria Gutierrez, invited all those present to take a tour of the beautifully renovated building.
The tone was set by the keynote speaker, Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center, the highest ecclesiastical office in the worldwide Scientology religion.
Mr. Miscavige, a driving force behind the growth of the Church for almost a quarter of a century, spoke of the essential need to recognize the spiritual nature of each person in order to restore vitality and purpose to both individuals and society. "For the people of Spain, this represents a new beginning. We want you to know who we are, what we believe, and all we stand for," said Mr. Miscavige. "For today, does not signify the opening of `our' new Church. Rather, it represents the opening of the new Church for you. That's why our doors are open, seven days a week. No matter your social standing, your race, or your creed - and whether to just find out the answers to your questions, or to be `helped' for whatever the need, you are welcome. Because, Scientology does have answers. Real answers."
Joining Mr. Miscavige to celebrate today's opening in Madrid was actor Tom Cruise, who described how Scientology has helped him in his life and career:
"In Scientology I have found several tools that I can apply to my daily life and they have allowed me to help myself and to help others to better the conditions of my life and of society. Honestly I can tell you that I wouldn't be here today as an artist, as a father and as a human being if it were not for Scientology.
"It has given me a larger comprehension of the world that we live in and of the spiritual being that I am."
Prominent leaders of Spanish society who followed and helped declare the doors of the new Church open were Professor Dioniso Llamazares, former Director of Religious Affairs at the Ministry of Justice; Mr. Francisco José Alonso Rodriguez, President of the Spanish Human Rights League; and Mr. Joaquin Antuna, Founder and President of Peace and Cooperation, a leading United Nations nongovernmental organization.
Professor Llamazares, one of Spain's leading sociologists of religion whose students have included cabinet ministers, presidents and members of the Royal Family, characterized the Church of Scientology as a major influence in bringing true religious freedom and pluralism to Spain.
Mr. Francisco José Alonso Rodriguez, who has worked extensively in Spain and North Africa helping underprivileged communities, praised the Church for its educational programs on human rights, especially for young people. "The Church's international publications [on human rights] and their campaign represent one of the finest and most sincere human rights efforts I have ever seen," he stated.
Mr. Joaquin Antuna, well known for his work to promote human rights, peace and education, commended Church members for the practical help they provide to their communities. He urged them to continue and redouble their efforts: "After the 11th of March, the people of Madrid need all possible help. Your spiritual help, your tireless battle against drugs credits you as citizens of the world."