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Church must clear Government debt by April at latest

By on Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Church in Britain must pay the Government back for its share of the papal visit costs by April next year, it emerged this week.

The Government paid many of the Church’s costs upfront to kick-start preparations for the visit. It is now expecting millions of pounds of debt to be repaid by the end of the financial year.

The Church has already raised £6.5 million for the visit but total costs are expected to be about £10 million, leaving a shortfall of £3.5 million.

The Church is counting heavily on contributions from dioceses to pay make up this shortfall. It is also relying on contributions from the sale of the Magnificat papal visit prayer book, one million of which were printed.

A spokesman for the Church in England and Wales said: “It’s up to the papal visit trustees to decide how to deal with any shortfall that’s still there in April – we are just waiting for the Government to pass the bills on once they are all in. As they do not yet have all the bills it is hard to say what the exact financial costs will be.

“Not all the monies from the Magnificat [prayer book] have come in yet and there are still other sources we are waiting for.”

The amount paid for by the Government also stands at £10 million, with £3.7 million taken from the environment and energy budgets and other departments deemed by the Treasury as having policy objectives aligned with the Government’s aims for the Pope’s visit.

During the visit Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, met the Climate and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, and Pope Benedict mentioned the environment in his speeches.

The Government budget was further divided into slices from the farming and rural affairs, communities and local government and education and international development departments.

Bridging measures will be put in place if the Church’s dioceses fail to meet the shortfall what they owe by April.

The last papal visit in 1982 left the Church deeply in debt. As the visit by John Paul II was deemed a pastoral visit, the Church paid for it all.

Meanwhile, National Express coach service has announced that its revenues have been boosted by the papal visit.
The company, which ran 1,000 coaches to Birmingham from across Britain to see the Pope last month, said revenues around that period had increased by four per cent compared to the year before.

  • MJCarroll

    I have already contacted a few of the bishops to state that we must have another Sunday collection to clear some of this debt. It is imperative that we clear the finances so that debt is not hanging over the Church for years as was the case after JPII's papal visit.

    The clearing of the debt will mean that future projects relating to the legacy of this papal visit will not be affected. Many of which are extremely important.

  • Jhammer

    Agreed. I make it roughly £4 per Sunday attendee.

  • Rohan

    I love the way your primary concern about not paying the debt back for several years is that it would be “hanging over the church's head” and that it may affect future church projects, rather than that it would be completely unfair on British taxpayers for the church to take its time paying the money back. There is a moral imperative, during this time of austerity, for the church to actually pay for the things it said it would pay for, in a timely manner. The church agreed to pay the 10 million (which is far below the policing cost and cost to other government departments that the taxpayer has had to pick up), so it should pay that money and it should pay it this year.

    Frankly, if it needed to loan money in the first place to pay for the church's share of the costs, it should have borrowed that money from the Vatican, not from the UK Government.

  • Jhammer

    My agreement is with Mr Carroll

  • David Armitage

    The Hierarchy encouraged this massive personality cult.

    Now they try to off-load responsibility onto the man and woman in the pew. The Bishops still imagine they can dispose of the Church's property as they see fit. Those who incurred the debt must pay. If they can't, personal bankruptcy is the answer. Meanwhile, I weep for what the ill-named trustees have done to the heritage of the Northern Catholics. Ushaw? Flog it!