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Thursday 15 November 2018

'It is outrageous' - TD criticises the Church for asking parishioners to foot €4m debt from Pope's visit

Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Pope Francis leads the World Meeting of Families closing mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Rachel Farrell and Catherine Devine

A TD has criticised the Church for asking parishioners for donations to foot a €4 million debt from the World Meeting of Families in August.

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said that it was "outrageous" four collections for the money occurred in parishes nationwide before the event, and a fifth appeal is planned for this month.

WARM WELCOME: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone meets Pope Francis watched by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain on August 25. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
WARM WELCOME: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone meets Pope Francis watched by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain on August 25. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The visit of Pope Francis to Ireland cost the state an estimate of €19.4 million according to parish newsletters - but only €15.4 million has been raised for the event so far.

Parishes have listed Sunday November 11 in their diaries to hold a WMOF collection at mass.

The Ossary diocese - of which Bishop Dermot Farrell overseas in the Kilkenny, Laois and Offaly area - issued a newsletter at the weekend that appealed to its 84,000 parishioners to make a donation.

The Rathvilly-Kiltegan Parish in Co Offaly distributed a newsletter with a similar message. The official WMOF 2018 Facebook page shared the Ossary diocese’s appeal, and called on the public to make a donation.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith

TD Brid Smith said that the Church should foot the bill and said that they always play the "poor card".

"If I was a member of their flock, I'd be raging with them because they have plenty of resources.

"They failed to fully pay the redress for the clerical sex abuse victims and most recently the sisters of the Bon Secours have offered an insulting €2.5m out of €13 that is required to exhume the site of the Tuam babies.

"I think the Church played the poor card all the time, when they're far from poor. I grew up in a time where collections from parishioners were used to build the churches. The churches were built on the pennies of the poor and now they're going to the same people to pay for the Pope's visit. It's pretty outrageous."

Ms Smith also called the Church "hypocritical" and said that the Pope's visit was an international event and so the Vatican should contribute to the costs.

"If the Catholic church in Ireland can't afford it, then they should reach out to their friends in the Vatican, the wealthiest city in the world."

Independent.ie has contacted the WMOF and Catholic Bishops for comment.

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