Arriving in a turbulent Madrid before another major tanking of global markets, Pope Benedict XVI shared some thoughts on the role of the economy, which he suggested could benefit from some sound investment in ethics futures. "The economy doesn't function with market self-regulation but needs an ethical reason to work for mankind," he said. "Man must be at the center of the economy, and the economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good."
In an indication of how troubled the average Spaniard may feel before the continuing crisis in Spain and throughout the euro-zone, and perhaps an indication of how far esteem for the church has fallen in Europe, thousands gathered in Madrid's central Sol plaza to protest the cost of World Youth Day and apparently vent in general against the church. Unemployment in Spain is nearly 21 percent, the highest in the eurozone. Reuters captured some exceedingly unpleasant scenes on video and still photography as protestors confronted and taunted arriving pilgrims. They were later driven out of the plaza by police.
The images suggest that Benedict is not wrong to view Spain as the frontline in the European culture war with "aggressive secularism." But even some priests of Madrid apparently view the costly WYD as tone-deaf during the current economic crisis (it is only fair to note the event was planned long before the Euro's fall from grace).
In a letter to Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 120 signatory priests complained of WYD sponsorship deals between the church and "the worst collaborators" during a time of crisis which "has its origin in the banks' and large groups' uncontrolled desire for profits." The priests complained that WYD advertising and sponsorship arrangements only reinforced "the image of the church as a privileged institution, close to power, and the social scandal this implies, especially in the context of the economic crisis."
The priests wrote: "To trust in the strength of power and money ... is to give in to a temptation as old as the Church.... No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money."