News / Europe

World Youth Day Underway in Spain

Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful during the weekly general audience at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the outskirts of Rome. Benedict XVI lands Thursday in the Spanish capital of Madrid for a four-day visit to greet up to a million or mo
Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful during the weekly general audience at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the outskirts of Rome. Benedict XVI lands Thursday in the Spanish capital of Madrid for a four-day visit to greet up to a million or mo

The weeklong faith extravaganza of World Youth Day is under way in Madrid with more than one million young Catholics expected to pour into the city. Pope Benedict is now due to arrive on Thursday as bitter debates are raging over the festivities and the role of the church in Spanish politics.

Millions anticipate Pope's visit

More than a million young Catholics are expected to crowd into Madrid this week for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to celebrate World Youth Day. It will be the third time the pope travels to Spain, the country he has visited most since his election in 2005.

Addressing pilgrims from his summer residence in the hills south of Rome Sunday, the pope urged them to pray for the successul outcome of his visit. Just two days before his arrival, Spanish police arrested a 24-year-old Mexican man who was apparently planning to attack people protesting the visit. Security in the city has been significantly stepped up.

Most of the city’s residents have fled the stifling heat in Madrid but hundreds of thousands of pilgrims participated in the opening Mass for World Youth Day on Tuesday, celebrated by Madrid Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela in the Plaza de Cibeles.

Organizers say the celebration of World Youth Day is drawing faithful from 193 nations. But there will also be those who are not celebrating.  

Protesters oppose event costs

Left-leaning groups demanding a secular state and young people who occupied many of Spain’s main squares in May to protest the government’s handling of the economy are planning at a major protest march Wednesday, on the eve of the pope’s arrival.

Criticism of the papal visit has come mainly from the “Los Indignados” (Indignant Ones) protest movement.  The group has protested against the government’s spending cuts, economic woes, and 21 percent unemployment.

Many people are unhappy with the cost of extra security for the pope’s visit. They feel this was unnecessary spending at a time that the country is undergoing a deep economic crisis.

Pope's welcome

Upon arrival on Thursday, Spain’s royal family will greet Pope Benedict at Madrid’s Barajas airport. The first official meeting between the pope and youth will be a welcome party. The pope will cross the Puerta de Alcala with five young people, each from a different continent.

In Madrid, the Pope will also meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose government has promoted several policies opposed by the church, including relaxing Spain's divorce laws, easing restrictions on abortion, legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing gay couples to adopt.

A vast white altar has been constructed at an air-base in the southwestern suburb of Cuatro Vientos where the pope will culminate his visit on Sunday with a celebration of mass beneath a giant parasol tree made of interwoven golden rods.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs