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Church seeks help to pay bills for World Youth Day

The Church in Canadia is asking Catholics to reach into their pockets to help cover a $A35.63 million deficit left behind by the gathering.

Catholic dioceses across the country have dipped into their funds to lend the Catholic bishops a total of $A28.51 million to cover the bills. Advertisements will appear in newspapers nationally over the next week making an urgent appeal for donations.

But far from being a sign of failure, the shortfall should be seen as "an investment in the youth of the world," WYD national director Fr Thomas Rosica said.

"We knew cash flow would be a challenge," because registrations were much lower and payments were slow to arrive, said Archbishop Anthony Meagher, chairman of the bishops committee for WYD.

The bishops who approved the budget for the gathering had hoped that as many as 500,000 would attend and believed 300,000 was a reasonable minimum expectation, the archbishop said. If that many had paid the full $A285 registration fee, it would have covered the $A79.58-million cost of staging all the events in the week-long gathering. However, only 175,000 paid the full registration and another 12,000 bought tickets for weekend parts of the meeting.

Joanna Manning, a former Roman Catholic nun and spokesperson for the Toronto-based coalition Challenge the Church, said the Vatican should foot the bill.

"The Vatican has oodles of money and artwork, and it was very much the Vatican agenda, so they should be the ones to pay," Ms. Manning said.

Meanwhile Pope John Paul II said on Sunday that the central message of World Youth Day was that society needs the saving power of the Gospel. The hundreds of thousands of young people in Toronto understood that they should model their actions on Christ if they want to change the world, he said.

The Pope made the remarks at a Sunday blessing at Castel Gondolfo, his summer residence outside Rome. He said the beatitudes' call to show mercy, make peace, seek justice and comfort the afflicted is something young people find convincing because they see that Christ lived those values, and did not simply preach them.

"The young people understood this and departed Canada committed to Christ," he said. "A world without reference to Christ - and this is the message of Toronto - is a world that, sooner or later, ends up going against the human being. Even recent history demonstrates this."

World Youth Day | We need your help!

Globe and Mail/The Universe

13 Aug 2002