Pope brings message of peace to Spain

 Peace was the dominant theme of the Pope's visit to Spain at the weekend. Arriving at Madrid airport, he was met by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and other members of the government who recently supported the war on Iraq. attended the reception at which the Pope said he prayed the world would finally see lasting peace. The Pope also said he hoped Spain and Europe would look to their Christian roots and respect traditional values,"including the rights of the unborn, as the continent forged ahead with integration and enlargement". Thousands of cheering people lined the streets of Madrid and threw yellow and white balloons and confetti as his cavalcade passed. Speaking to an estimated crowd of around 600,000 young people at an evening rally on Saturday, the Pope said: "The spiral of violence, terrorism and war causes, even in our day, hatred and death." "Your response to blind violence and inhuman hate should be the fascinating power of love. Conquer enmity with the force of forgiveness." Waving banners and flags, the exuberant crowd interrupted his speech after almost every sentence with cheers and applause . When the crowd chanted "John Paul II. Everybody loves you," the Pope departed from his prepared text to say: "That may be true in Spain," bringing laughter from the crowd. "I am a young person aged 83," he added. In what was taken as a reference to Basque terrorist movement, which has claimed more than 830 lives since 1968, the Pope said: "Shun every form of exasperated nationalism, racism and intolerance. Show with your lives that ideas are not imposed but proposed. Do not let yourselves be discouraged by hate," the Pope told the crowd. About a million people attended an open-air Mass in Madrid's Plaza Colon yesterday, for the canonization of five new Spanish saints. The new saints: two priests and three nuns - were all 20th Century Spaniards admired for their work with the poor. They were: Pedro Poveda, a priest murdered in 1936 during the opening days of the Spanish Civil War; Fr Jose Maria Rubio, and Sisters Angela de la Cruz Genoveva Torres and Maravillas de Jesus. The Pope's weekend visit ended with an audience with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and other members of the royal family, who saw him off at the airport.

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