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Spaniards Protest Pope Visit, Citing Costs

Demonstrators in Spain protest against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid.
Thousands of Spaniards have protested against the visit to Spain by Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, denouncing the use of public money in connection with the visit at a time of economic hardship.

The pope is expected to arrive in Madrid for a visit due to culminate in a Mass on Sunday in connection with Catholic World Youth Day.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have come to Spain from around the world to take part in the celebrations -- but protesters say they don't want their taxes being used to pay for costs associated with the visit, especially at a time when Spain has 20 percent unemployment and when the government is cutting social spending.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Madrid on August 17 to protest the use of government funds to pay for police, clean-up, and other expenses.

Government officials have said they expect that the influx of thousands of pilgrims to Spain will bring more euros into the country than the government will spend during the pope's visit.

compiled from agency reports