Catholic Church to hold fifth national collection to pay for papal visit

Bishop blames media’s consistent negative coverage for shortfall in fundraising

His Holiness Pope Francis with President Michel D. Higgins and his wife Sabena at Áras An Uachtaráin. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

His Holiness Pope Francis with President Michel D. Higgins and his wife Sabena at Áras An Uachtaráin. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

The Catholic Church in Ireland is to hold a further national collection to help defray remaining costs from the World Meeting of Families (WMoF2018) and the visit to Ireland of Pope Francis last August.

It will take place at all Catholic Churches on the weekend of Saturday, November 10th and Sunday, November 11th.

Spokesman for the Catholic bishops Martin Long said “the World Meeting of Families deficit is in the region of €4 million. To date €15.4 million has been raised by previous national collections and other donations.”

The overall cost to the church of the WMoF2018 and the visit to Pope Francis was €19.4 million, he said.

It will be the fifth such national collection by the church to help fund these events and the third this year, following one in February and another in July. The previous two national collections in connection with them took place in May 2016 and April 2017 and brought in €5 million.

‘Financial management’

In a message to all priests and deacons in the diocese of Elphin, Bishop Kevin Doran said “the recent World Meeting of Families came in significantly under budget, thanks to good financial management.”

He added however that “unfortunately, in spite of a very successful effort, there was also a shortfall in fundraising income, due in no small measure to the consistent negative coverage in the media in the final weeks of preparation.

“Some ‘fruit’ died on the ‘trees’. The result is a deficit which has to be covered by the Irish church.”

He continued that the Episcopal Conference (the bishops) had “decided on an additional national collection on November 10th/11th to help defray the deficit, which would otherwise fall to each diocese in proportion to its size.

“I would ask you to support this collection to the best of your ability, as every penny that comes in will be a reduction of the amount that we will eventually have to pay from reserves.”

Bishop Doran added that “this special collection will not replace the parish collection.”

Funding for last August’s events were also sought from likely contributors in the Irish business world and from Irish America, including those who helped fund the previous WMoF at Philadelphia in 2015 as well as the 2012 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Broadcaster Norah Casey, a member of the fundraising committee for the WMoF2018, told this newspaper earlier this year that it had been in contact with the fund raising team for Philadelphia 2015, including US philanthropist Susan Davis.

Chairwoman of Susan Davis International, a global strategic communications and public affairs firm based in Washington, Ms Davis is Irish-American and a member of the board at the American Ireland Fund.

Ms Casey said that when it came to fundraising in Ireland a number of Irish brands “had to be tested ethically,” she said. “These, and high net worth individuals, before they could be approached, they had to pass a test,” she said.

When came to merchandising, relevant materials had to be environmentally compatible with Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si on care of the Earth, she said. All of this was done “in a quiet, confidential way,” she said, and a list of eligible businesses and individuals had been put together by January last.