Young protesters hurled bottles and cans at the car carrying Pope John Paul II and battled with police today in protests against his visit to the Netherlands.

Demonstrations by several thousand radicals were the most violent that John Paul has encountered in the 26 trips of his seven-year papacy, according to members of the Vatican press corps.

The pope also heard his views sharply criticized by liberal members of the Dutch Roman Catholic Church while attending meetings with social and civic groups.

Leather-jacketed demonstrators representing a variety of radical causes chanted obscene slogans, shook their fists and threw bottles and cans at John Paul's covered "popemobile" as it rode past crowds that gathered to welcome him after he had celebrated morning mass at a convention center.

Riot police stopped a larger group of several thousand stone-throwing youths who attempted to march to the convention center.

Later, that group went on a rampage through the center of Utrecht, smashing windows and attacking police vehicles. Homosexuals protested the church's moral strictures and chants of "Kill, Kill, Kill the Pope" were heard in the crowds. Three police officers and one protester were injured, officials said, and 14 persons were arrested.

One policemen fired at a youth who threatened him with a knife, officials said, adding that it was not known if the youth was hit because he ran away.

The pope spent Sunday night in The Hague, where police earlier defused a bomb, The Associated Press reported. It was not known if the bomb, found outside a police station, was connected with the pope's visit.

Local residents said many of the protesters -- in their late teens and early twenties, who sported wildly colored hair or shaved heads -- were from Amsterdam and fought with police at every opportunity. Some protesters said they objected to the money spent on the papal visit or the pope's strict views on sexual behavior.

John Paul was warmly applauded by about 10,000 people at an evening mass, but throughout the second day of his visit he received constant reminders of the divisions within the Dutch church and opposition to his views from secular groups.

About 40 percent of the Netherlands' 15 million population is Catholic, with the church divided along traditional and reformist lines. A principal purpose of the papal visit is to heal the division.

During a meeting between John Paul and representatives of Dutch missionary groups, a speaker departed from her prepared text and made remarks pointedly critical of the pope's positions on morality and the role of women in the church.

"Are we preaching the liberating gospel in a credible way if we lay down the law rather than extend a helping hand; if we exclude rather than make room for unmarried people living together, divorced people, homosexuals, married priests and women?" asked Helwig Wasser, head of the diocesan missionary council of Groningen.

"Developments in the church in recent times have forced many of us, because of our faith in and obedience to Christ, to be critical and disobedient toward the church," Wasser added. Her remarks drew both applause and boos from the audience.

In her prepared speech, Wasser also said the credibility of the Catholic Church was in question if it admired "other churches for their struggle against poverty and injustice" and then refused "to work out the consequences for structural, social and economic change."

In his reply, the pope said missionary work "must go hand in hand" with a commitment to "social progress and work toward the liberation of people from suppression," but he reemphasized his opposition to the identification of the church with political activity.

"The evangelical mission of the church must not be reduced to the provision of social and economic help alone, nor should it become entangled with it," he said.

Representatives of Dutch civic groups, in guidelines prepared for an informal dialogue with the pope, said "it is not clear" that the church is ready to accept and encourage equal rights for women.

The Netherlands Trade Union Federation, which was formed by the merger of Catholic and socialist unions and is now the largest in the country, criticized the pontiff's views on social change in an open letter timed to coincide with his visit.

"You are warning the poor masses time and again about the dangers of 'foreign ideologies,' by which you specifically mean Marxism, while you barely speak -- and then often in veiled terms -- of the degrading consequences of the capitalist market economy and the ideology of 'national security,' " it said.