Pope: Spanish gov't respects Benedict's decision to resign

Three papal visits to Spain under Socialist ex premier

11 February, 18:50

(ANSAmed) - MADRID, FEBRUARY 11 - Spanish Foreign Minister Jose' Manuel Garcia-Margallo on Monday expressed ''absolute respect'' for Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign.

The pope visited Spain three times during his pontificate.

The first, from July 7-9, 2006, was for the fifth world family conference, when Socialist former premier Jose' Luis Rodriguez Zapatero declined to welcome him and refused to attend Sunday Mass ''for fear of protests'', as the Zapatero entourage made known at the time. In 2010, the pope visited Santiago de Compostela on November 6 and Barcelona the following day.

His last visit took place August 18-21, 2011, during the 26th World Youth Day. King Juan Carlos met him at the airport, saying: ''Your Holiness, Spain is your home''. Zapatero met with the pontiff the following day for ''cordial'' talks on various international issues. (ANSAmed).

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