Pope: Madrid – Capital of the world for youth

The arrival of Pope Benedict, World Youth Day in Madrid moved up a gear and in Benedict’s words, Madrid has become the capital of the world for youth.

Amid the heat of the burning sun, the 1.5 – 2 million pilgrims, the need for water, all didn’t seem to matter to Jo Anne Rowney who tweeted her excitement as she was “about to see Papa.”

In his address to the youth, the Holy Father told the vibrant youth that it is God who gives wings to our freedom, God’s words that feed our being, but when we don’t follow Christ and get lost we can always count on God’s mercy, particularly in the sacrament of penance.

Pope Benedict told the youth that humanity has been created and is the main protagonist in the search for truth.

He encouraged the pilgrims to use the time to get to know Christ better, to build on solid rock, rock that is stable.

Towards the end of his address, Benedict commended the fruits of the Madrid WYD to Mary. “She teaches like no one else,” he said.

Support among the pilgrims is immeasurable, however the Pope’s visit is not without contention.

  • Eight demonstrators have been arrested and 11 people injured in clashes between riot police and protesters in Madrid opposed to a visit by the Pope. The violence broke out after a march by thousands of people angry that – among other things – taxpayer money is being spent on the four-day visit by Pope Benedict XVI for a festival called World Youth Day.
  • Earlier in the day, a young chemistry student working as a volunteer to prepare a visit by the Pope to Madrid was arrested on suspicion of planning a gas attack targeting protesters opposed to the pontiff’s stay.
  • Throughout the buildup and during WYD, young activists are taking their “Condoms4Life” campaign to the streets of the Madrid, this despite civil authorities some weeks ago barring bus ads and billboards in the city.

Not leaving a moment to chance, on the flight to Madrid, the pope answered several questions put to him by reporters, one of which at least indirectly related to the question of taxpayer money being spent on his visit and WYD when he denounced economic structures that put profits ahead of people.

“The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good,” Benedict told journalists.

“The economy cannot function only with mercantile self-regulation but needs an ethical reason in order to work for man,” he said.

The Spanish economy is struggling to exit a recession which has left one in five unemployed, of which a large proportion are young people.


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