Pope to meet Spanish king in November
Pope Benedict XVI will meet the Spanish king in November on a trip to Barcelona, where he will also consecrate the city's long-unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral, the Vatican said Friday.
On the pope's 18th trip abroad since the beginning of his pontificate in 2005, Benedict will arrive on November 6, greeted by heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe, and his wife in Santiago de Compostela in the northwest.
The following day he will meet King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, before celebrating consecration mass in the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi.
The cathedral, which has been in construction for years before and after the Catalan's death in 1926, is today a world heritage site.
The pope's trip had originally been announced in March when Spain was in the midst of a major row over abortion.
A new law allowing women to end their pregnancies up until 14 weeks was approved by the Spanish parliament on February 24.
Bishops strongly opposed the legislation and demanded its "abolition as soon as possible".
The law took effect on July 5.
A few weeks later a top Vatican prelate attacked Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero over the new legislation.
Ignacio Carrasco de Paula described the law as "senseless, absolutely senseless, and corresponds to Zapatero's mindset", in an interview with the Italian-language religious monthly Il Consulente Re.
Benedict's November trip, which will conclude with a visit to a charity for handicapped children, does not include a visit to Spanish capital Madrid, as the he is due to travel there in August next year, to mark World Youth Day.
© 2010 AFP