Barcelona, The Pope, The Protests & Who Paid For It

Last Sunday El Papa was in town. The news of his upcoming arrival had been all over the news for the last week and my little barrio was at the epicenter of activity. I happen to live 5 blocks from the majestic Sagrada Familia catherdral, the sacred location where the Pope oversaw mass services.

I’m not in the religious type in spite of all the Sundays I spent in church as a child. Even then, I never understood all the hype about the Pope. Surprise! I obviously wasn’t raised Catholic. Today, I happen to believe myself to be a spiritual person and even more puzzled by the Catholic faith, the Catholic church and the current Pope. I was baffled by the bands of young teenage girls roaming the streets the Saturday before his appearance screaming EL PAPA! EL PAPA! as though he was a rock-star. The city treated his visit as though he where one.

My barrio, gound-zero for his visit was barricaded off to motorized traffic as well as the whole route he was scheduled to take through town during his visit. Jumbo-tron screens were set up around the perimeter of La Sagrada Familia as were thousands of chairs for all the visitors that weren’t a part of the wealthy aristocracy or government that were actually granted entry into the holy chapel that had made a pilgrimage to see El Papa.

For me it was a pain in the culo. Getting to the gym, grocery store, etc became an obstacle course for a few short days.  And as I said before-puzzling. The El Papa groupies were one thing but when the news of the 670 million euros that were invested in his visit came to light I was wondering where in the hell did the money come from. Remember, Spain has the top of the crap pile of shitty EU economies with 20% of its citizens unemployed. Some say it was a wise investment that Barcelona and all of Spain will see in the near future. However some of the local merchants that had businesses surrounding the Sagrada Familia felt otherwise. They were hoping for residual euros to roll into their establishments with visitors wanting to purchase souvenirs, food and beverages. Didn’t happen. The visitors came, they prayed or protested, littered and left.

True, the whole world or at least Catholics all over the world had their eyes on Barcelona for a few hours and this might some positive financial repercussions in the future. The final figures haven’t been processed yet but the local government was hoping to rake in 39.8 million euros in revenue from the visit. As a PR maven, I know the value of great press (BCN city council estimated a 4.6 million return on the boost of Barcelona’s international profile) and God knows the country needs it, but I think the best thing about the excessive amount of euros that was spent was the Sagrada Familia. I pass by the massive iglesia regularly; its incredible to think I live almost next door to a UNESCO World Heritage site and I am still awestruck by its size and the creative wizardry of Gaudi even with the construction cranes, protective netting and building supplies that have a permanent presence at the site. Watching the mass on TV and seeing the chapel in all its splendor the way Gaudi had planned was special. The pews were full and the light that spilled in through the enormous intricate stained glass windows cast a beautiful a glow on the pulpit and parishioners below. In that moment I kind of wished I was there— religion and faith aside. Then, El Papa had to go and ruin it by heading to the pulpit to give mass. The novio, a born and raised Catholic, at that point decided it was time to turn the channel to Family Guy, nonetheless.  That was his way of sticking it to The Pope, the so-called highest ranking righteous dude that has done nothing to resolve the raging pedophilia problem within the Catholic church and has written racist doctrine in the name of religion. Gays and Lesbians also gave him and the Vatican the middle finger by taking to the streets in full force (Besada Gay en Barcelona contra el Papa).

I’m sure the city was divided between those for and against his visit. From what I could see, most of the news surrounded the collective of people who weren’t so keen on his visit. I personally don’t care where people might stand on religion but this Pope’s ideas are disturbing beyond the normal (outrageous) views of the Catholic church like anti-abortion and anti-homosexuals. Read on about others that happen to feel the same way… People Against the Pope.

-Espana Fly

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