The Pope just can’t get a break. You’d think that when visiting a predominantly Catholic country like Spain (the Catholic population of Spain is 94%), he would be greeted with cheers and adulation. Not protests and snarky atheists.
But protesting is what a large group of Spaniards are doing.
The Pope is in Madrid to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD), which is a Catholic festival for youth, which is August 16th to the 21st. Organizers of the event expect up to a million people will join in the celebration which will culminate in an open air mass by the Pope on Sunday.
However, large numbers of people in Spain aren’t too happy about this. A large percent of the dissatisfaction comes from the huge cost of the event. The 15-M Group in Spain, an anti-austerity spending group which takes issue with spending cuts so social welfare and anti-democratic actions.
“We are not angry about the Pope’s visit, which some will agree with and others won’t, but rather over the financing of it with public money, especially at a time when many services are being cut because it’s necessary to curb government spending,” 15-M said in a statement. – source
Event organizers are stating that most of the money for the event is being funded by the pilgrims themselves, nevertheless, in a Spain that is facing serious economic hurdles, a visit by the Pope is not what people consider prudent economic planning. Apparently people have been carrying banners that read “The pope travels, the pope pays”. Critics of the visit have put the cost of the whole event around 100m euros ($144m) but that hasn’t been confirmed by the government.
In addition, there are a number of the other groups protesting the Pope’s visit, including large groups of Gay Rights activists who oppose Catholic ideology.
According to this BBC article reports how protesters have been clashing with the pilgrims in Madrid’s Sol Square, there were also reports of protesters clashing with police, although I haven’t heard too much in terms of violence.
The Police in Spain did arrest a young man from Mexico who was allegedly planning to gas the anti-Pope protesters. The man was a chemist student and had made several threatening remarks online and was found in possession of “two notebooks with chemical equations not related to his studies and a computer “allegedly used to recruit on the internet”, police said.” -source
Whether the threat was real or not remains to be seen. However, it does point to the extreme tension the Pope’s visit is provoking.
Along those lines, there is another issue I’m sure many are upset with. The Pope has offered a six-day abortion forgiveness option. In the divine wisdom that only the Vatican could come up with, over 200 confessional booths are being set up in Madrid for women who have had abortions. Of course, one must thank the Catholic Church for this, after all, abortion is a sin worthy of excommunication and you know what that means. Hell. Forever.
You really have to hand it to the Catholics. For a religion that’s leadership is exclusively male, they sure know how to respond to a situation that they lack the necessary organs to even experience.
In an article on Slate Magazine by Amanda Marcotte, a very good point is made. This is a very expensive abortion get-out-of-hell-card. For Catholics in America, Canada or elsewhere, to get your forgiveness you need a last minute ticket to Madrid, find accommodations, food, and not to mention, forget about whatever was going on in your life right now, because you have to go to Madrid to be forgiven! Of course an less expensive option would be to stop being Catholic. That doesn’t cost anything.
I shouldn’t need to point out the huge hypocrisy of the Catholic Church holding women to some higher standard about what they do with their bodies when they can’t even control the pedophilia within their own organization. Maybe that’s why the Catholic Church hasn’t been able to stop these sexual predators, a few moments in a confessional booth appears to be the perfect cure for anything bad. “Are you sorry that you raped that child?” “yes” “Are you going to do it again?” “No” “Good, I’ll send you to another parish.”
I wonder if the Catholic Church has a special dispensation for women who were raped by clergy or those within the church? Surely they don’t have to be forgiven for having an abortion? Surely these poor women wouldn’t have to fly all the way to Madrid to be “forgiven” for removing the off spring of a rapist?
I’m sure any moment now the Catholic Church will make such an announcement.