The Vatican is marking World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid by offering women who have had abortions an easy way to become Catholics again, reports the Guardian. Abortion is punishable by instant excommunication and "normally, only certain priests have the power to lift such an excommunication, but the local diocese has decided to give all the priests taking confession at the event this power," explains a spokesman for Pope Benedict XVI.
Some 200 confession booths have been set up in central Madrid for the 6-day event, which is expected to attract well over a million pilgrims as well as plenty of protesters. The Spanish government will be covering some of the costs of the $72 million event, which will include a visit from the pontiff tomorrow. Even some members of the clergy are questioning the wisdom of holding such a lavish celebration when Spain is in the midst of an austerity drive, and youth unemployment has reached 40%, the New York Times finds.