What would Jesus do? Would he take a trip to Spain that cost the Spanish taxpayers, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, $80 million while accepting sponsorship from over 100 corporations, including Coca Cola?
Apparently 100 Spanish priests don't think so. That's what Pope Benedict is doing and they are protesting it. The priests represent Madrid's poorest parishes and don't believe that the expense can be justified at a time of massive public sector cuts and 20 per cent unemployment. One member of the group, Evaristo Villar, explained, "We are not against the pope's visit, we are against the way it is being staged." A sore point for many Spaniards is that pilgrims to the event will receive free transport while locals in Madrid are facing a 50 per cent increase in transit fares.
Meanwhile the Church is hoping—or perhaps the appropriate word is praying—that the response this time will be better than the poorly received visit to Barcelona last November when, according to the Guardian, the popemobile was "forced to drive at top speed past small groups of the faithful along mainly deserted streets."
But not to worry. With Coca Cola on side, things will no doubt go better.