Pope starts Spain visit with call for economic ethics

Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:37pm GMT

By Judy MacInnes and Maria Ibanez

MADRID (Reuters) - Pope Benedict denounced economic structures that put profits ahead of people Thursday at the start of a trip to recession-hit Spain where the costs of the pontiff's visit have sparked violent protests.

"The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good," Benedict told journalists on the plane taking him to Madrid for a four-day trip centred around the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day festivities.

"The economy cannot function only with mercantile self-regulation but needs an ethical reason in order to work for man," he said.

The Spanish economy is struggling to exit a recession which has left one in five unemployed, of which a large proportion are young people.

Disaffection over government spending cuts, a sickly economy and a lack of job prospects has spawned a protest movement named "Los Indignados" (Indignant Ones) whose young supporters occupied Madrid's Puerta del Sol square in May.

The costs of 84-year-old Benedict's visit to Spain at a time of economic hardship has reignited protests by Los Indignados and others, including gay and lesbian groups, and demonstrations turned violent Wednesday evening.

Eight people were hurt and eight were arrested Wednesday evening as a result of clashes between pilgrims and protesters, police and emergency services said.

But a protest in Puerta del Sol on Thursday evening against the police action drew barely 200 people and failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of pilgrims gathered in nearby Cibeles square.   Continued...

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he is welcomed by Spain's King Juan Carlos (R) and Queen Sofia (L) after arriving at Madrid's Barajas airport from Rome, August 18, 2011.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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