Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, emphasized the Pope's joy as he leads the 26th World Youth Day, which culminates with Mass on Sunday morning.
Father Lombardi particularly noted the Holy Father's satisfaction with the Via Crucis, which concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"The Pope was very touched yesterday," the Jesuit said at a press conference today, "and he also spoke very happily about the lunch with the youth and the splendid presence of Spanish religious culture in the Via Crucis."
The stations of the Way of the Cross were depicted with artwork used in Spain for Holy Week, some dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The stations differed somewhat from the traditional 14: The Via Crucis began with the Last Supper, depicted in an image from Murcia of 1763. A 1963 depiction of Judas' kiss followed, and then Peter's denial. An early 17th-century image of Jesus' condemnation to death was used for the next station, followed by Jesus nailed to the cross. After a station on Jesus' fall, there was another 17th-century piece of art depicting Simon of Cyrene.
The Way of the Cross concluded with a 1625 image of Jesus in the arms of Our Lady, and another sculpture from the same year of Jesus placed in the tomb. A depiction of Our Lady left alone, known as the Sevillana (1674), brought the stations to a close.
The prayers along the Way of the Cross remembered the suffering of youth: At the ninth station, the Pope and young people prayed for victims of sexual abuse. There was also prayer for victims of genocide, those who suffer wars, those persecuted for their faith, and those addicted to drugs.
Your sins are forgiven
Father Lombardi also reported that Benedict XVI began today by hearing the confessions of four youth.
Two hundred mobile confessionals have been set up in the "City of Forgiveness" in the Parque del Retiro. The Holy Father used one of them to hear the confessions of two French-speaking youth, a German youth and a Spaniard who speaks Italian.
Father Lombardi recounted that the Holy Father had been told that he would hear three confessions, and that there was a fourth youth on reserve. "The Pope joked that 'reserving' is only for [the sacrament of] the Eucharist, and he heard the confessions of all four of them."
The spokesman went on to reflect, "WYD is a sign that when there is clear and ample availability of this sacrament, the Christian people draw near to confession."
"Not only in the Parque del Retiro, but also in the churches of Madrid, thousands of people have come to confess," he added.
Finally, the spokesman reported that the Pontiff was to meet with a group of Norwegian youth at tonight's vigil.
The Pope "will in this way express his closeness and encouragement to the youth of this country, harshly affected by the tragedy that took place a few weeks ago in Oslo, the victims of which were precisely young people."
A gunman killed 69 youth at a camp July 22.