Via the Daily Mail:
Senior Vatican officials who will accompany the Pope on his historic visit to Britain will stay in a luxury hotel where rooms cost up to £900 a night – courtesy of UK taxpayers. The Government has confirmed it will meet the accommodation bill for 11 members of Pope Benedict XVI’s entourage during the visit from September 16-19. The Government has also decided to give all 11 a daily spending allowance of £150 for the trip. The money has been set aside for expenses such as food, dry cleaning, UK telephone calls and drinks – as long as they are not from the hotel mini-bar. The disclosure will exacerbate concerns about the rising cost of the four-day visit, which is already costing UK taxpayers £12million – 50 per cent more than originally intended…The hotel is close to Westminster and boasts a swimming pool and 24-hour room service. It will cater for the spiritual needs of the party by allowing a chapel to be set up in its private dining room. The Pope himself will stay in the Papal Nuncio’s residence at Wimbledon,
So far as the papal entourage is concerned, the only vow of poverty, it seems, is the one being imposed on the British taxpayers. As for that whole “catering for the spiritual needs” thing, well, you’d think that that was something that the Vatican folk could arrange for themselves.
And then there’s this, via the Independent:
With just over a month to go before the Pope arrives in Britain, the Catholic Church is facing a £2.6m shortfall in donations needed to pay for the visit. The Church officially needs to raise £7m to pay for the pastoral elements of Pope Benedict’s state visit, although sources involved in organising the trip have told The Independent that the final bill will be closer to £8m. So far the Catholic Church in England, Wales and Scotland has raised just £5.1m with the vast majority – £4m – coming from wealthy private and corporate donors. Just £1.1m has been given through individual collections at Mass – the equivalent of £1.27 for each regular mass-going Catholic.
The difficulty that the Church has had in soliciting donations from its own faithful reflects a growing fear that Benedict’s visit is unlikely to generate the sort of papal hysteria that swept Britain in 1982 when his predecessor, John Paul II, was greeted by more than 2 million Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“I wouldn’t want to say that the reaction has been lukewarm but it certainly hasn’t been red hot,” says Clifford Longley, columnist for The Tablet. “I noticed in my own parish that they still have tickets available for the Hyde Park vigil and the Newman beatification. We’re not in a situation where people are queuing around the block for tickets.”