Vatican asking for more cash to fund Pope's visit

The Vatican has asked Brazil for an additional €30 million ($49.5 million) to help cover an expected shortfall in funding for the visit of the Pope to Rio de Janeiro this month.

Pope Francis will make his first international trip to the world's largest Catholic country for the World Youth Day celebrations between July 23-28.

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 €50 million, according to Brazilian media. But Brazil's federal, state and city officials in Rio de Janeiro, who have already committed at least €46 million of public money to the €115 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 €35 and €200, according to Brazil's O Globo newspaper. But, so far, only about 320,000 pilgrims have registered.

According to government sources, Vatican officials met Eduardo Paes, the Rio city Mayor, Sergio Cabral, the Rio state governor, and Gilberto Carvalho, President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff, and requested that each provide an extra €10 million.

The Archdiocese of Rio denied the event was in financial difficulties.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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