26 February 2016
Vatican selling Year of Mercy cruises to wealthy patrons
The fact that the fundraising is led by priests of the Legionary of Christ demonstrates the continuing influence of the order
The Vatican is offering cruises around Italy and parts of eastern Europe to help raise money for its museum and art collections.
Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums are inviting participants on a 7-day “Year of Mercy” cruise taking in the Amalfi cost, Sicily, Croatia and Slovenia which costs costs up to $6,550 (£4,670) with an optional $2,799 (£1,996) for a three-day Rome excursion.
The cruise is open to all Patrons of the Arts - among them Vatican art and Conservative party donor Sir Michael Hintze - and those wishing to become a patron at a cost of $1,200 (£857).
Those joining the trip will be given informative presentations on the Vatican museums, dinners, cocktail parties and a daily private Mass.
The cruise is being led by Fr Mark Haydu, a Legionary of Christ priest, who serves as the liaison between donors and the Vatican museums. He is due to be accompanied by another legionary priest Fr Daniel Hennessy.
Cruises run by the patrons have taken place in previous years and helped raise much needed money to maintain Vatican art work.
The fact that the fundraising is led by priests of the Legionary of Christ demonstrates the continuing influence of the order, which has been plagued by scandals. Enormously wealthy, the legionaries have a reputation for their ability to fundraise. But the order was plunged into crisis after its founder Fr Marciel Maciel was found to have molested seminarians along with fathering six children, two of whom he is believed to have abused.
While many have called for the order to be closed down entirely, in 2014, after a five year process, the Vatican approved new constitutions for the Legionary and allowed it to continue.
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