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Pope arrives in Spain amid protests

POPE Benedict XVI has arrived in crisis-torn Spain amid protests about the cost of his visit.

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(Antler)

POPE Benedict XVI has arrived in crisis-torn Spain amid protests about the cost of his visit.

The Pope delivered his message calling for the economy to work for people, not profit, as protestors clashed with pilgrims and riot police in Madrid, expressing their anger over the expense of World Youth Day celebrations, which the Pope will lead.

"The economy cannot function as a self-regulated economy," the leader of the world's estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics told journalists accompanying him in the papal plane from Rome, the Australian newspaper reports.

"Man must be at the economy's center, which is not profit but solidarity," he said.

Spain is in economic crisis with 21 per cent unemployment, CNN reports.

He also urged youths not to hide their religious beliefs from peers.

"With all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord," the Pope said, CNN reports.

He added that, "the young followers of Jesus must be aided to remain firm in the faith and to embrace the beautiful adventure of proclaiming it and witnessing to it openly with their lives."

Upon landing, the Pontiff was met by the King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia.

He will spend four days in the capital for the rock festival-style celebration and lavish religious festivities which run until Sunday.

He then paraded in his popemobile through the streets cheered by some of the more than one million pilgrims that have descended on Madrid for the celebrations.

The Australian reports:

Later on, the papal cortege will head to the central Plaza Cibeles for a welcoming ceremony complete with an air force flyover painting the colors of the Vatican and Spanish flags in the sky.

Huge speakers blared out pop music in the city as hundreds of thousands of the pope's fans waited in the heat in floppy hats, with backpacks containing alcohol-free beer and fans.

But the party atmosphere was shattered hours earlier when thousands of anti-papal protesters and hundreds of young Roman Catholics hurled insults at each other in the central square Puerta del Sol.

Police finally moved in with batons swinging to dislodge the anti-pope demonstrators from Puerta del Sol.

Police have arrested seven people for "assaults on people in authority," a national police spokeswoman said.

Eleven people were lightly injured, she said.

The event culminates with an open-air mass - for which many will sleep out in anticipation of - on Sunday celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, BBC reports.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/110818/pope-arrives-spain-protests