24 August 2011

Spanish protesters should have welcomed Pope simply on economic grounds

You may or may not have heard very much in the secular media about the great gathering of young Catholics in Madrid, Spain with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the recent World Youth Day 2011.

Much of the secular media coverage focused on those who protested the Papal visit on economic grounds.  It is no secret that Spain is in a serious crisis and it was argued the government should not be spending money at such a time.

Little attention was paid to all of the money already spent in the years of planning and preparing for the global gathering of some 1.5 million Catholics (some estimates are as high as 2 million).

The Prime Minister of Spain received criticism from the protesters for welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to Madrid.

One of the aspects of the protests not covered by the media is the way in which they clashed with riot police (no riot police were needed for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims; only for the "thousands" of protesters).

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez

Notice the lack of riot police, despite the size of the crowd.
AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
What also received little attention was how protested verbally assaulted pilgrims, whereas the pilgrims returned the insults with prayers.

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

According to the head of Madrid's chamber of commerce, the pilgrims brought with them some 160 million euros (about $230 million) that were spent in Madrid and will surely be a great boost to the Spanish economy.  Spain estimated the pilgrims would only spend 100 million euros ($144 million).

After the first protest, the Holy See, noting the great amoung of money that would be spent in Madrid by the pilgrims, said the "event will not cost anything" for the Spanish government; the relatively small costs associated with the World Youth Day would be more than compensated by the monies they would spend.

Now, you might be wondering what the cost of the World Youth Day was.  It was - compared to the economic influx brought by the pilgrims - rather small: 50.5 million euro ($73 million); the amount spent in Madrid was more than four times the cost of the event.  Even if the meagre estimate was met by the pilgrims, the World Youth Day would have brought in twice the amount spent.

The simple economic data demonstrates the false logic of the protesters; if they lamented the economic state of Spain they should have welcomed the pilgrims with open arms.

Update: I forgot to include this detail in the original post: the WYD was - surprise, surprise - entirely self-financed.  All of those protesters protested against nothing.

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