Cost of Papal Visit is Cause for Debate (and Souvenir Sales)

There's been some debate in the U.K. over who should pay for the upcoming papal visit. According to the BBC

The total bill for the invited visit—without the cost of police and security—is estimated by the Foreign Office to be about £15m. Of this, £7m will come from the Catholic Church, the rest will be shouldered by taxpayers.


It is this final issue of whether, in a secular democracy, the public purse should pay for the visit of a religious leader, that has led to criticism.

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, who is co-ordinating the visit, defended the distribution of costs:

"Firstly, the Pope is coming as a religious leader, but he is also coming at the request of the Queen as a head of state, so all the usual concerns apply. Secondly, one in 10 people in this country is Catholic....

I do understand how people would not agree with the Catholic Church on some things, and they would translate that into why should the British tax payer [have to pay for the visit].... But there are many others who would be very willing to support the visit."

He added that taxes were often spent on things that not everyone agrees with, but that this was "part of being a society."...

The Church's contribution will pay for staging and organising the "pastoral" elements of the Pope's itinerary, such as public masses to take place in different cities across the country.

Private donors and parish collections will help provide the portion of the funds for which the Catholic church is responsible.

ICN reported that in the Diocese of Paisley, Scotland, Bishop Philip Tartaglia urged parishes to hold fundraisers, if necessary, in order to do their part to fund Benedict's Mass in Bellahouston Park, which may cost more than £1 million. He said that these are "costs which are mostly implied by the nature of the event itself and by the fact that 100,000 people are coming together in one place to meet with the Successor of Peter.... A principle of the organization was that costs should be shared evenly throughout Scotland to make it feasible for people to come from all parts. This act of solidarity with our Catholic brothers and sisters from throughout the country does not seem out of place for a once-in-a-generation Mass with the Holy Father on Scottish soil.”

But even those who aren't part of a U.K. parish can support the fundraising efforts from afar. Mugs, T-shirts and keychains are among the items now selling online to commemorate Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip. All of the profits from the sale of these souvenirs will help defray the costs associated with hosting the visit. According to Independent Catholic News: "The appointment of an official merchandiser early on in the project, will help to reduce the opportunity for piracy and bootleg memorabilia.  Only proceeds from official sales fund the Papal Visit."

Of course, there are other benefits to skipping the bootleg items in favor of the official merchandise: In 2008, during Benedict's visit to New York, my mother spotted some less-than-official T-shirts sold by a vendor with good intention but failed execution. The clothing was emblazoned with a statement welcoming the pope to the "Untied States of America."

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Jim McCrea
8 years ago
I have read that in Scotland, many of the tickets being made available through the parishes are being returned - not enough interest to disperse them all.

The trouble with Great Expectations is that they often times do not come to fruition.

They need to try that Great Catholic Work of Mercy - bingo.


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