Photo: Pope Benedict XVI
Spanish police have arrested more than a dozen people protesting the cost of Pope Benedict’s visit to Madrid.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid Thursday for a four-day visit to the Spanish capital in celebration of World Youth Day. At least a million pilgrims from across the world have come for the Catholic youth festival which started on Tuesday and cost 50 million Euros.
To Madrid citizens the estimated cost of $61M seems excessive to spend on one visit, specially for a country living through a financial crisis and living through a record rate of unemployment and dealing with so many more problems that early elections were called for.
Protesters took to the streets both Wednesday and Thursday to manifest their discontent and were met with heavy police force. Reports have the police arbitrarily flinging their batons at bystanders and arresting some 18 people, while wounding a total of at least 30. Ironically, the cost of police, and security is not contemplated in the $60 million budget.
More than 100 protest groups chanted things like “God yes, Church no” and “Not with my taxes,” the money protest then fused with other causes, including those seeking a change in the Church’s attitude towards gay rights and groups advocating for a clearer separation of Church and state.
In the meantime, Pope Benedict XVI met with King Juan Carlos at the royal Zarzuela Palace near Madrid and warned Friday of an “eclipse of God,” while speaking to a group of nuns outside a 16th century Spanish monastery.
“Young people,” said the pope “need reference points in a society which is increasingly confused and unstable.”