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Monday, April 14, 2008

Papal Visit

Today's NEW YORK TIMES had a headline that read, "Hefty Bill for Pope's Visit Looms for Archdioceses".

The article mentioned some of the costs such as printing tickets for papal Masses to organizing street closures and security. The Washington archdiocese predicts that the three days that Pope Benedict XVI will spend in the capital will cost at least $3 million. The article goes on to mention that when Pope John Paul II made a trip to the East Coast in October 1995, the cost was about $1 million to $1.2 million a day according to an estimate of an organizer of the 1995 papal visit. The TIMES adds that heightened security after the attacks of September 11 will probably push the costs higher this time.

Unless my math is very wrong, this papal trip will cost about $3 million for three days, or about $1 million/day compared with the 1995 visit which cost about $1 million to $1.2 million/day. I really don't see how this trip is so much more expensive which is what the TIMES would like you to believe.

The article goes on to mention that the Christ Our Hope Foundation which is financed by wealthy donors will underwrite the costs. The foundation has already raised more than $3 million and any surplus will be donated to a charity of the Pope's choice in his name.

Of course, the cost to the city of Washington is estimated to be $2,190,955 to provide security, close streets and clean up after parades. The city tries to be reimbursed by the federal government for what it spends on such efforts for visiting dignitaries every year. They would like to discuss cost-sharing with the Archdiocese.

From what I read, the cost of the Pope's visit will be covered by the Foundation and the city of Washington which normally bears the costs of security for visiting heads of state. I really don't see how this will cost the Archdiocese much, unless I missed something in the article.

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