World Youth Day costs Catholic Church in Australia $150 million

Sydney, Australia, Apr 22, 2008 / 03:30 am (CNA) .- According to the government of New South Wales, the Catholic Church will pay a “significant amount” of the bill for World Youth Day in Sydney, News.com.au reports.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma on Monday said that taxpayers in the Australian state would contribute $86 million towards staging the July event, which will include a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict at Randwick Racecourse.

Iemma’s figure did not include a $42 million compensation package to the racing industry for using the racecourse.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church said the Church was paying $150 million for the event, raising some of the money through pilgrim registration fees.

Organizers say the event will attract about 225,000 Catholics from around the world.  World Youth Day 2008 will be the biggest event hosted by Sydney since the 2000 Olympics.

"The Catholic church is paying for a significant amount of the costs," Iemma said.  "What we are doing with policing and transport, these are the arrangements that have to be put in place for massive events."

Iemma said the event would showcase the city to a global audience and generate $150 million in revenue.  He said the event would bring many benefits to Sydney, and said the revenue estimate did not include the impact on the tourism industry.

Green Party members said the Catholic Church should pay most of the bill.
 
"The Catholic church is the organization that will gain the biggest benefit from this event, not the people of New South Wales," Greens New South Wales MP Lee Rhiannon said on ABC radio, according to news.com.au.

"It's a clear promotional event and, therefore, they should be footing the main part of the bill,” Rhiannon continued.

Sydney Chamber of Commerce executive director Patricia Forsythe said hosting the event would generate $231 million for New South Wales and globally promote economic and tourist interest in Sydney.

"It's critical that we measure World Youth Day not in terms of public expenditure, but in terms of the economic activity which it generates," Forsythe said.