Critics slam cost of pope's trip for World Youth Day

With World Youth Day about to begin in Madrid, the high cost of the pope’s visit to the event  is coming under fire:

The pope arrives in Madrid on August 18 to attend the final four days of the Roman Catholic Church’s six-day youth festivities, expected to draw more than one million faithful.

Organisers of the World Youth Day celebrations put the price tag of staging the event, without counting security costs, at 50-60 million euros ($72-86 million)…

…Organisers say 80 percent of the cost of the event will be financed by payments from the young pilgrims, with the rest coming from donations by companies and individuals.

But critics argue that corporate sponsors are eligible for tax rebates of up to 80 percent of the amount they donate because the government declared World Youth Day celebrations to be an event of “exceptional public interest”.

The Priests Forum, which groups together 120 priests from Madrid’s poorest parishes, has criticised this loss of state revenues, especially since the government has slashed social spending and public worker salaries.

Evaristo Villar, a 68-year-old priest who is one of the leaders of the group, said the Church has had to ally itself with large multinationals to cover the costs of the “showmanship” of the event.

“These companies that are backing World Youth Day and the pope’s visit leave much to desire. They are the ones who, together with international capital, have caused the crisis,” he said.

“We are not against the pope’s visit, we are against the way it is being staged.”

Opponents of the pope’s visit have set up a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the over 100 corporate sponsors of the event, including Coca-Cola, telecoms giant Telefonica and Banco Santander.

Nearly 150 groups that oppose the pope’s visit plan to protest against the pontiff’s visit on August 17 on the eve of his arrival.

Spain’s 15-M movement against the management of the economic crisis, soaring unemployment and political corruption — named after its May 15 launch date — is also mulling a series of protests during his stay in Madrid.

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  1. gerardnadal says:

    This is sheer stupidity. WYD pilgrims will be pouring scores of millions of dollars and euros into the Spanish economy, and the clergy are upset. Those pilgrims need lodging, food, transportation, etc, and will be bringing money to pay for it all, almost a tenth of a billion dollars.

    Doubtless many of Spain’s poor will benefit from feeding them, selling them souveniers, clothing, etc. Many will wait tables, bus tables, cook meals, clean dishes…

    This is economic and political ideology that is so strident that it is blind to the tsunami of money headed their way. The corporate sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, receiving tax breaks employ the people who make the product, drive the trucks, work in the offices, craft the advertising, print the ads, post the billboards, make the cans and bottles, and on, and on… yet all the priests can see is executives doing well.

    Many are also nauseated by corporate giants sponsoring a Papal event. This is also extremely short-sighted. We need to afford corporate giants the opportunity to promote good, and not evil. Let them experience the joy of promoting that which is good, holy, and constructive. In time, they will migrate in that direction and away from sponsoring that to which the good is opposed.

    If the Spanish clergy are so vexed, move WYD to New York City. We could use $80 million pumped into our local economy, as well as the kick-start to faith in the local population that comes with hosting WYD.

  2. 1297710268 says:

    But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.
    –Matthew 26:8-11

    EVANGELIZATION OF THE YOUNG is so important—Yes, let’s help the poor, but not by reducing the Church’s influence on the next generation.

  3. pagansister says:

    Spain, like many other countries (including ours) is in deep financial trouble. Maybe the visit will bring money into the economy there, but will it pay for the cost of what has to be done in prepartion ? Guess they will find out when it is over.

  4. This is a cheap shot at the Church and the Pope, and the corporate sponsors of the event. However, this kind of politicking is to be expected nowadays, and seems to have become common currency.

    I’d look at this event as an insurance policy. Hopefully those youth attending here will not turn to street violence as the hooligans in London are doing.

  5. Hey we could ask the people who want to buy the Crystal Cathedral to send the 53 million dollars to the WYD in Spain instead! Think of it, it would cover about 80% of the whole thing. Just saying.

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