Pope leads ceremony recalling sins, child abuse
Pope Benedict XVI, seated before a sea of cheering young pilgrims in Madrid, led a Crucifixion service Friday recalling the world's sins, including rape and child abuse.
The 84-year-old pontiff presided from a vast white stage in city's Plaza Cibeles square over a Stations of the Cross ritual marking the torments of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and then his resurrection.
It was a solemn moment in a mostly street party-like atmosphere that has overtaken the Spanish capital with more than a million pilgrims celebrating the August 16-21 World Youth Day festivities.
Protests have nevertheless broken out nearby in the city as some Spaniards vented anger over the money spent at a time of sharp economic pain, with more than 45 percent of under-25s registered unemployed.
As the water vapour wafted down to cool the pope in the brutal August heat, pilgrims walked past religious statues from around Spain, some dating back to the early 17th century, depicting 14 stations of Christ's ordeal. A 15th statue near the pope showed a weeping Virgin Mary.
Benedict earlier passed in his popemobile by each of the steps, spread along a 700-metre (nearly half-mile) route on the way to a massive stage in Plaza de Cibeles for the start of the service.
Dressed in white cassock and scarlet cape, draped with a gold and scarlet stole, and with a white skullcap on his head, the smiling pontiff took his place on the stage to deafening cheers from waving pilgrims.
© 2011 AFP