|Pope for Hire Row As Rich Pay Millions and Then Get to Meet Him
By Jonathan Petre
September 26, 2010
The Pope's visit to Britain came under fresh scrutiny last night after it was revealed that multi-millionaires funded a significant proportion of the trip and were granted a coveted private audience with the Pontiff.
Insiders said the bulk of the £6.5 million raised so far by the Catholic Church to finance the visit came from businessmen including JCB boss Sir Anthony Bamford.
During the four-day visit, many of the donors met Benedict XVI at a series of gatherings, one of which took place just before Mass at Westminster Cathedral.
Costs for State events during the visit, including the Pope's meeting with the Queen, were met by the taxpayer, but the Catholic Church was faced with a £10 million bill for staging religious events such as the Hyde Park prayer vigil.
The Church still needs to raise another £3.5 million to cover this bill and it is set to approach many of the donors again to see if they are prepared to make up the shortfall.
A national collection in the parishes earlier this year raised only about £1 million.
Catholics last night voiced their unease over the need to raise money from businessmen. One insider said: 'It is always an uncomfortable place for the Church, cosying up to the rich.
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