Pope Benedict faces a mixed reception in Spain where youngsters have been arriving to see him take part in the Roman Catholic church’s World Youth Day festival.
The pope will also be the focus of protests over the cost of his visit at a time when Spain is going through economic purgatory.
People from the “Los Indignados” movement are planning protests over the millions they say the Madrid government is having to spend on things like extra security.
The Catholic church countered that the event will actually generate money for the Spanish state with the spending of hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors.
“WYD is a unique opportunity for the Spanish economy, at zero cost to taxpayers,” said Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, WYD Chief Financial Officer.
The visit will also see protests by Spanish gay and lesbian groups and pro-abortion campaigners.
Even some Spanish priests have questioned the costs, as well as what they see as unseemly corporate sponsorship.
“We are not organising a protest against the Pope but to complain about an event which is very expensive in times of crisis and high unemployment,” said Evaristo Villar, a priest and member of Redes Cristianos, which will stage a protest on Wednesday night on the eve of the Pope’s arrival.
“An event of this kind has no place in a country with five million unemployed,” he said.