Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo, Spain spoke out Aug. 11 in defense of World Youth Day 2011. He said that Spain is a free country where Catholics have the right to express themselves.
“Why are freethinkers, atheists and secularists more right than others?” he asked. “It should be noted that Catholics, who pay taxes just like everyone else, make up the vast majority in Spain,” the archbishop added.
The news agency EFE said the archbishop’s comments came in response to critics of the Christian nature of World Youth Day and opposition to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.
He scolded the event's detractors for misinforming the public by claiming the event constitutes an expense for the state. “If you don’t like World Youth Day or the Pope, fine, but don’t insult us and say things that aren’t true,” the archbishop said.
The archbishop also defended the right of Catholics to participate in an event “in which we can all truly say what we want to say.”
He said the kind of criticism that has been leveled against World Youth Day 2011 is unprecedented. “(The criticism) has gone so far beyond the pale and has been so ridiculous, that I can’t help but feel indignant,” Archbishop Rodriguez said.
The president of the Catholic League for Civil Rights, Bill Donohue, also responded recently to the critics of next week's youth event, noting that World Youth Day will not cost the Spanish state a single penny and that young people will be injecting nearly $140 million into the ailing Spanish economy.