Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates Mass in Madrid’s Cathedral

The BBC reports:

Pope Benedict XVI has been greeted by a sea of supporters as he arrived to celebrate Mass at Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral.

He is in Spain for World Youth Day, a Catholic festival bringing together young pilgrims from around the world.

There have been several protests against the cost of the four-day visit, which comes at a time of high unemployment and spending cuts.

The event’s organisers say most costs will be met by the pilgrims themselves.

On Friday riot police confronted protesters in Madrid’s city centre, as priests and teachers hurried young Catholic pilgrims down side streets.

The protest began as the Pope, joined by hundreds of thousands of supporters, took part in a Way of the Cross procession, in memory of the crucifixion of Christ.

Before celebrating Mass at the cathedral with trainee priests, the pope heard confession from four young pilgrims in the city’s Retiro Park, where 200 temporary confessionals had been set up.

The main event on Saturday is an open-air prayer vigil in a military airfield on the outskirts of Madrid.

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford says wherever the Pope goes hundreds of thousands of ecstatic Catholics are there to meet him.

Protesters were back out on the streets of Madrid on Friday
Up to a million pilgrims from across the world have gathered in the Spanish capital for events.

Celebrations for World Youth Day 2011 began on Tuesday evening with a giant open-air Mass where about 800 bishops, archbishops and cardinals- along with 8,000 priests – tended to the congregation.

The Pope arrived in Spain on Thursday and was greeted at Madrid’s Barajas airport by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. He has also meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.

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