Monday 22 October 2018

State refuses to confirm Pope visit indemnity claim

The giant altar on the site where Pope Francis is to give the closing Mass in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
The giant altar on the site where Pope Francis is to give the closing Mass in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The Government has distanced itself from claims that the Catholic Church is underwriting the costs associated with and any fundraising shortfall deriving from a landmark visit to Ireland by Pope Francis.

Security and related costs, primarily associated with a Papal Mass to be attended by 500,000 in Phoenix Park, could top €32m according to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The World Meeting Of Families (WMoF), a registered charity raising funds for a three-day congress and the visit by Pope Francis, says it has reached €15m of a €21m fundraising target.

The prospect of an indemnity was raised by publisher and philanthropist Norah Casey, a member of the WMoF fundraising committee who told RTE last week that the hierarchy is underwriting the visit.

"There is no question that the Pope coming to Ireland isn't underwritten by the Church in Ireland," said Casey. "It is and that's how it works over the whole world."

The Department of An Taoiseach said the State's involvement in the visit is as appropriate for an official visit by a head of state, adding that any issue relating to an indemnity and Casey's remarks were a matter for the WMoF.

The charity refused to clarify Casey's remarks, adding that it won't be issuing further details on costs and expenditure until after the event.

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