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Tension as protestors join pilgrims' Madrid logjam on eve of papal visit

Benedict XVI scheduled to arrive at Barajas at 12pm on Thursday causing massive road closures

On the eve of Benedict XVI's visit to Madrid verbal clashes between anti-papal protestors and pilgrims took place in the center of the capital as a mass march against the pontiff's presence descended on the Sol square, the epicenter of the 15-M movement.

Catholic youths seated in the square chanted "Benedict!," to which secular marchers responded "is a Nazi!" More than a million pilgrims are expected in Madrid during the pope's visit, which has raised the ire of citizens due to its cost to the taxpayer, discounted travel for worshippers and massive road closures.

The pope is scheduled to arrive in Madrid today at midday and will immediately embark on a tour of the capital in the Popemobile, before his arrival at the Nunciature. In the evening, Benedict XVI will appear before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the Cibeles square.

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How pleasing the pope became the priority

The airport road will be shut as the pope makes his way to the center, and could be cut off for a length of time as thousands of pilgrims are planning to walk the route. At press time, the center of Madrid was inundated with secular marchers. "We have exceeded our expectations," said one of the organizers.

Thousands demonstrate against the papal visit in the Puerta del Sol
Thousands demonstrate against the papal visit in the Puerta del Sol
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