Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Pope: Ethics, morals key to Europe's economic policy

Pontiff in Spain for church's World Youth Day

MADRID -- Pope Benedict XVI denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality that he says is behind Europe's economic crisis as he arrived in hard-hit Spain Thursday.

He said morals and ethics must play a greater role in formulating economic policy in the future.

The Pope made the comments as he arrived in Madrid for the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day, a Catholic festival that is taking place against a backdrop of the European debt crisis and social unrest among the young that exploded recently in the riots in Britain.

He said the crisis and sense of desperation among young people proved that ethics have been increasingly left out of forming economic policies.

Wednesday night before the Pope arrived, about 5,000 people opposed to his visit marched peacefully to Madrid's central Puerta del Sol plaza, which has been the epicenter of Spain's anti-establishment protests since May.

A small number of protesters then clashed with riot police.

But Pope Benedict arrived in Madrid Thursday to a boisterous welcome from young people with their faces painted the colors of the Spanish flag chanting: "These are the Pope's young people!"

Youngsters decked out in faux Swiss Guard uniforms greeted him on the tarmac at Madrid's Barajas airport, along with Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, the man forecast to take power in November elections, also were present.

In a speech delivered on the tarmac in Spanish, the Pope referred to the precariousness many young people see in their future.

Unemployment in Spain is nearly 21 percent and is the highest in the eurozone.

"Many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, either because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain," he said.

He urged young people to keep fast in their faith.

Many Spaniards have balked at the cost of the visit at a time of economic difficulty.

Many have cited the fact that pilgrims are getting discounted subway and bus tickets with their accreditation packages, while such prices for everyone else went up 50 percent this month to $1.50.

Vatican Radio responded to the critics by noting the $72 million tab for staging World Youth Day is being paid for by the participants themselves, some private donors, and the church.

Critics say the organizers' estimate for the price tag doesn't include security costs and is a fraction of the total price tag for Spaniards.

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