Pope's visit to America estimated to cost millions

 Pope Benedict's six-day visit to America which begins today, will cost millions, a church spokesman said. Monsignor Robert Coleman, who helped organise Pope John Paul II's trip to the East Coast in October 1995 said that trip cost about $1 million to $1.2 million a day. Heightened security required since September 11 will probably make this trip more expensive, he said. "The Mass at Nationals Park, security, transportation of bishops and people, planning - we don't have a playbook for this," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Washington archdiocese, who pointed out that the last papal visit to the capital was in 1979. Ms Gibbs said Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington decided that parish and diocesan money should not be used for the visit. Instead, he set up a foundation, financed by wealthy donors, to underwrite the costs. Any surplus funds will be given to a charity chosen by the Pope, she explained. Carrie Brooks, a spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M Fenty of Washington, said the total expected costs of providing security, closing streets and cleaning up after parades was estimated at more than two million dollars. The Archdiocese of New York will be appealing to wealthy donors to help finance the visit. But it will also be collecting donations from parishioners. While the New York archdiocese will not have to pay for extra security provided by New York City or for the use of Yankee Stadium for the papal Mass, the Washington archdiocese will have to pay to rent the National Park. While the financial costs of the visit will be high, churches are anticipating the Pope's visit will have a positive impact on the spiritual lives of Catholics. The National Catholic Reporter said that pastoral life in the archdiocese of Denver improved markedly after Pope John Paul II visited in 1993 for World Youth Day. Attendance at Mass, enrollment in Catholic schools and applicants to the priesthood and religious life grew markedly. A year after the visit, the archdiocese registered 2,000 converts, many more than usual. Mgr Coleman of Immaculate Conception seminary said: "I think there is a spiritual impact on the faithful, though it is hard to measure. The visit gives inspiration to people to embrace the faith, to return to the faith." Source: NCR/ABC

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