Pope Benedict to face protests over cost of Madrid World Youth Day

August 16, 2011

Demonstrators protest against special reductions on public transport for visiting pilgrims on the first day of the World Youth Day meeting in Madrid August 16, 2011. The poster reads "Not with my taxes."/Andrea Comas

Madrid is preparing a lavish welcome for Pope Benedict when he attends a Roman Catholic youth festival this week, but he will also face protests over its cost at a time of economic hardship. Criticism has come from “Los Indignados” (Indignant Ones) protest movement, whose mostly young supporters occupied Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square in May to protest against government spending cuts, economic woes, and 21 percent unemployment.

Some Spanish priests have also questioned the costs, as well as what they see as unseemly corporate sponsorship.

“We are not organising a protest against the Pope but to complain about an event which is very expensive in times of crisis and high unemployment,” said Evaristo Villar, a priest and member of Redes Cristianos, which will stage a protest on Wednesday night on the eve of the Pope’s arrival.”An event of this kind has no place in a country with five million unemployed,” he said.

One specific grievance has been special reductions on public transport for visiting pilgrims when locals are being charged up to 50 percent more for a single bus or metro ticket. Organisers of the World Youth Day festival say the pilgrims will be paying for the event and that it will generate about 100 million euros for state coffers.

“WYD is a unique opportunity for the Spanish economy, at zero cost to taxpayers,” said Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, WYD Chief Financial Officer.

Critics have put the costs at around 100 million euros but the government has declined to give a figure for how much the papal visit will set back the state. A government spokeswoman said most of the costs were on extra security, including putting thousands of extra police on the streets of Madrid.

Read the full story by Judy MacInnes here.

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3 comments

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People can spend THOUSANDS to see those inhumane bullfights, but protest spending money on a World Youth Day because the Pope will be present?

Posted by sophiewonderful | Report as abusive

People calm down

These young peoples’ souls are just as important than the poor.
We will always have the poor.
Let us have freedom of religion. If you guys love the poor so much, then sell your houses and give all that money to the poor
Greenpatrick125

Posted by greenpatrick125 | Report as abusive

Lies and more lies… why Reuters dont report that the Pilgrims paid for the Pope’s visit??? because it is ok to smear the Catholic Church…
Why don’t they report that most of the violent clashes with the police was done by the hate-mongers GBLTs??? because it is not ok to say the truth if some GBLTs are involved in it.

Posted by axemole | Report as abusive