Monday, July 8, 2013

Vatican 'asks Brazil for extra £26 million for Pope Francis Visit'


Pope Francis will make his first international trip to the world's largest Catholic country for the World Youth Day celebrations to be held between July 23 and 28.
A shortage in the expected millions of pilgrims – whose contributions are part-funding the cost – led to the Vatican identifying a black hole of up to £44 million, according to Brazilian media.
But Brazil's federal, state and city officials in Rio de Janeiro, who have already committed at least £40 million of public money to the £100 million event, are said to have refused to contribute any more.

It is understood that recent mass protests across Brazil – in which more than a million people demonstrated against the lack of investment in public services compared with the Pope's visit, the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics – may have played a part in the decision.

The plan was for pilgrims, who had been expected to number up to two million, to fund up to 70 per cent of the costs with registration fees of between £31 and £175, according to Brazil's O Globo newspaper.

But, so far, only about 320,000 pilgrims have registered, with government officials indicating that they now may only be expecting less than half the initial estimate.

According to government sources, Vatican officials met with Rio city mayor Eduardo Paes, Rio state governor Sergio Cabral and Gilberto Carvalho, President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff, on Friday and requested that each provide an extra £8.8 million in funding.

The meeting was on Mr Carvalho's daily agenda and the Rio state government also confirmed the meeting but would not comment on its contents. The Archdiocese of Rio denied the event was in financial difficulties.

Brazil's federal government is already committed to spending £33 million on the event, most of which is being spent on a massive security operation including thousands of military, police and firefighters.

The security operation is said to be unprecedented for a visiting dignitary in Brazil. The state has also committed to spending at least £7.6 million on free transport for visitors.

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