Protesters rally against pope's visit to Spain
Thousands of activists rallied Thursday in Barcelona against a weekend visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Spain, attacking the Church on multiple fronts including child sexual abuse by priests.
"Jo no t'espero" ("I'm not waiting for you" in Catalan) declared banners carried by a crowd of more than 2,000 people in the Sant-Jaume Square in the historic part of this Mediterranean port city.
"Children welcome, priests flee," said one placard carried by a child, referring to the child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church worldwide but largely spared Spain.
"I am here because this is a secular state and I want to defend it," said one activist, Nuria Barrachina, a 34-year-old office worker who was there with her husband.
"I don't like priests," added 62-year-old Sebastian Carbajal.
"Once and for all the Spanish government should separate Church and state," he said. Carbajal called on the government to end an option on income tax forms that lets taxpayers give 0.7 percent of their taxes to the Church.
Gloria Lopez, a 35-year-old teacher, said she believed half of the taxes paid in Spain went to the Roman Catholic Church. "There is Catholic propoganda everywhere because they have got the money we give them."
The pontiff travels to Santiago de Compostela, one of Catholicism's holiest sites, on Saturday before continuing to Barcelona to consecrate Antonio Gaudi's iconic unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia church.
© 2010 AFP