Why tapering a monument of freedom during the Pope’s visit?

The first visit by a Pope to Portugal took place on May 13, 1967, when Paul VI visited Fatima on the 50th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Maria at Cova da Iria in 1917. It wasn’t an official state visit as the Government of dictator Salazar didn’t like the fact that Paul VI had visited India in 1964, three years after the invasion of its colony Goa by the Indian state, considering the trip ‘an insult to the Portuguese nation.’

Thereafter Pope John II visited the country three times and Pope Benedict XVI once. The second visit of the Argentine Pope Francis to Portugal is the seventh of a pontiff in office to Portugal with Fatima as a common denominator. But this time also in view of the upcoming World Youth Days (WYD).

In connection with this, the Lisbon council is keen to ensure that the phallic sculpture by João Cutileiro (1937-2021)commemorating the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974 – isn’t visible during the catholic festivities and is willing to spend over 120.000 euros to hide the 90-ton and 6-meter-high obelisk during the Pope’s visit.

The original idea was to dismantle and remove the entire sculpture (to be returned to its place after the celebrations of the Catholic Church have ended) but the Councill then opted for a cheaper option of restoring the monument (which has suffered a number of fissures over the years) and keeping it under wraps during the religious encounter.

Officially christened ‘Cravo e Colunas’ (carnation and columns) – and popularly called the ‘dick’ – the phallic element of the work is meant to symbolize the virile force and vigor of the revolution. But the council believes it could be too much for the Pope to stage a mass next to the statue in Lisbon’s Park Eduardo VII and expose the young believers to the phallic vision of one of the country’s most famous modern sculptors. 

However, in view of the importance of this national monument, how can it be allowed to be covered in order to hold a religious ceremony? What is being covered anyway: the ‘penis’ or the celebration of freedom? 

WYD is costing the Lisbon council, the government, and the Portuguese Catholic Church combined over 160 million euros. Over 1 million visitors are expected during this bi-annual event, which runs in Lisbon from August 1-6. Despite all preparations, authorities have warned that traffic in the capital is likely to be chaotic in the five days affected.

Enjoy your week          Aproveite a semana                (pic Público/Sapo)

Lisbon and Funchal in EU top 10 for polluting cruise ships

World Travel Awards
named Lisbon as Europe’s Leading Cruise Port 2022.
Last year well over 200 cruises (with 45,275 passengers) departed at the port of Lisbon.
These vessels are emitting more sulfur oxides (SOx) than one billion cars.

According to a recent study by the European Federation of Transport and Environment focussing on European ports and released by the Portuguese environmentalist association ZERO, atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gasses from cruise ships increased substantially last year compared to pre-pandemic levels; sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 9%, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 18% and fine particles by 25%.

These pollutants are responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and contribute to the acidification of the ocean. Worldwide, maritime transport is responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse emissions, 250,000 premature deaths, and 6.4 million cases of childhood asthma per year.

In the ranking of European polluters by cruise ships, the study puts Lisbon in 5th place after Barcelona (Spain), Civitavecchia (Italy), Piraeus (Greece), and Palma de Mallorca (Spain). The port of Funchal – the capital of the Portuguese isle of Madeira – rose 5 positions in the ranking (from 15th to 10th), which was justified by the considerable increase (25%) in cruise ship calls.

In 2019, the port of Venice won the unfortunate title of the most polluted cruise port in Europe. In 2022 it plummeted to the 41st position after banning large cruise ships from entering the port. The measure resulted in an 80% reduction in SOx emissions.

Zero draws attention to the ‘false solutions’ by cruise ship operators that do not represent viable measures and aggravate the ecological footprint. In the first place, the widespread use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers), promotes the emission of fine particles by 60% when used with heavy fuel.

Furthermore, wastewater discharges redistribute pollutants in the ocean. There is also a record of the wrong bet on liquefied fossil gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel, which hides the fact that LNG is more harmful to the environment than heavy fuels because of methane leaks, says the organization.

It would be far better to create conditions for cruise ships to connect to the electricity grid in Lisbon and Funchal and create laws to oblige them to do so! Not only will the environment gain but also the Portuguese economy through the electricity sold to these – mostly foreign  – ships.

Enjoy your week          Approveite a semana                (pic Público/Sapo)