Vatican bails out Rio’s World Youth Day fund by £3m07 January 2014 | by Helen Pye
The Vatican has pledged £3 million to cover some of debt owed by the organisers of the 2013 World Youth Day, held last July in Rio de Janeiro, the archdiocese of the Brazilian city announced.
The five-day festival was funded by the Church and donations from the three million pilgrims who attended the event which culminated in the first Latin American pope celebrating Mass on Copacabana beach. However, the event still accrued a debt of £23.5m (91.3m Reals).
Pope Francis' donation comes after organisers managed to reduce the amount they owed to £11m (43.2m Reals), following the sale of a building belonging to the archdiocese of Rio, sales of CDs and DVDs of the event, and a fundraising campaign.
But the archdiocese said that outstanding contracts were still being renegotiated in order to settle remaining debts.
The Brazilian Government refused a request from Pope Francis to provide £26m to cover the funding shortfall, having already paid some £33m in security costs during his visit.
More than one million people demonstrated across Brazil weeks before the event last July, protesting against taxpayers’ money being used for events such as the papal visit and the World Cup instead of public services.
The previous World Youth Day held in Madrid, Spain, in 2011 managed to cover its costs through donations, and was estimated to have boosted the economy by nearly £300m.
However, the Spanish Government paid £41m in security and infrastructure improvements, leading to clashes between police and protestors.
The next World Youth Day will take place in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.
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