Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the centre of Madrid for a Mass aimed at promoting traditional family values. The service in the Plaza de Colon started with a message from Pope Benedict the 16th, who urged the members of the crowd to keep their families together.
The mass was celebrated by six archbishops, 22 bishops and more than 300 priests. No official attendance figures have been made available, but the organisers said they had expected up to one million people to turn up. Relations between Church and State have been rocky in recent times. Spain’s Socialist government has angered the Vatican by legalising gay marriage and making divorce more accessible. It has also said it plans to introduce a new law offering greater legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and doctors who carry out the procedure. Tensions were stoked at a similar event a year ago, when bishops criticised the government over its liberal social policies.