Pope Francis greets crowds from the popemobile at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, 2015. Photo by Michael Swan

Donors helping cover papal visit costs

  • July 19, 2022

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has turned to a wide variety of donors to help it with the $15-million cost for hosting Pope Francis in Canada.

According to a fundraising letter obtained by The Catholic Register, the bishops’ conference has contributed 10 per cent of the cost with a $1.5-million contribution to the National Philanthropic Strategy for the Papal Visit to Canada. The Supreme Knights of Columbus have kicked in $750,000. Fundraisers have approached 242 religious orders and institutes. With contributions from the Edmonton and Quebec archdioceses — the two large dioceses which will actually host Pope Francis and the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who come to see him over six days — the fund was edging up toward $8 million in early July.

“Some donors with capacity are contemplating over $1 million lead gifts,” said the CCCB fundraising letter. “Others are considering +$5 million.”

Funding for the Pope’s visit is important because the trip is important, said Papal Visit senior lead, communications, Neil MacCarthy.

“The Holy Father’s pilgrimage to Canada is a critical step in the healing process for residential school survivors, their communities and the families of those students who passed away,” MacCarthy wrote in an email. “The Catholic Church, the Government of Canada, provincial governments and private donors have made substantial financial and in-kind contributions towards the visit.”

While Ottawa picks up the tab for transportation, health care and mental health services for Indigenous survivors, the CCCB is paying for programming costs. These include ticketing and venue expenses, communications infrastructure, local transportation, hotel rooms and equipment for volunteers, staff and presenters.

Whether it’s making sure there is the basic infrastructure at Lac Ste. Anne for broadcasters, or getting the papal plane and others up to Iqaluit for a three-hour visit with Inuit youth and elders, it all requires cash.

“The Canadian bishops have engaged with various Canadians and businesses who wish to support this historic milestone. These donors have helped make it possible that none of the events during the visit will charge admission,” MacCarthy said.

The money being raised for the papal visit has nothing to do with the CCCB’s previous commitment to raise $30 million over five years for the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.

“None of the IRF’s funds will be used to cover the expenses of the papal visit,” MacCarthy said.

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