Jesus fed the masses with a few loaves and fish. World Youth Day organizers can't even keep their books straight. Now they've taken out ads begging us to cover the shortfall. Thirty million dollars? Don't believe it.
Canada welcomed the WORLD in July and helped make it a better place.
Well, not exactly. It was actually Mayor Mel and Chief Julian Fantino who were bucking to bring World Youth Day here -- even visited the pontiff to make personal appeals -- after T.O. lost its bid for the Olympics. We don't think Torontonians would have been so keen to "welcome the world" had they known from the start that $5 was being added to each property tax bill to cover WYD costs. Helped make the world a better place? Let's see. Mel talked about sweeping homeless people off the streets -- and Fantino obliged. The Pope wasted none of his breath on social justice issues. And the "miracle of faith" organizers were trumpeting got lost somewhere in the red ink. Nope. Same mean old world out there.
... $30 million shortfall...
Here, the numbers just don't add up. Difficult to fathom there's any shortfall at all, considering the red carpet and funding rolled out by all three levels of government and the more than 150 sponsors who supported the event with hard cash or in-kind services. Among them, eight anted up a cool $1 million; another eight gave $500,000; 22 donated at least $100,000; and 53 gave at least $50,000. That's more than $16 million right there of the $67 million WYD organizers say it cost to put on the event. Add in the roughly $40 million collected in registration fees from the 170,000-plus pilgrims who attended and the $3 million WYD has yet to factor into the bottom line from the sale of merchandise and you're talking an actual loss closer to $10 million. Church spokespeople say now that they knew all along there'd be a deficit. Guess the $186 million in spinoffs promised the city was grossly exaggerrated, too.
... investment in the youth of Canada and the world
Some investment. Because of the Church's decentralized structure, none of the Vatican's billions actually trickles down to needy parishes. Each diocese is left to fend for itself. That's why the Toronto archdiocese has been left holding the WYD bag. Indeed, parishes are required to turn over whatever profits they generate to the Vatican, whose bank, the Institute of Religious Works, oversees some $5 billion in assets and the world's largest art collection. According to books published on the subject, it holds several billion dollars in gold deposits as well as investments in the world's largest banks and most powerful international corporations. The 2,500 officials of the papal curia have a combined annual salary of almost $100 million. And they wonder why Catholics are losing faith.
... receive a receipt for tax purposes
Only the Catholic Church can put on an event that doesn't even rate as "charitable" (WYD was more PR than humanitarian exercise), run a deficit and cover the shortfall by issuing tax receipts for donations. If only the Downsview businesses that went under because of sewage backup after the Papal mass were so lucky.
WYD a success
As spectacle, no doubt. The star of the show flew in on a helicopter. Teen girls were brought to tears at the mere sight of His Holiness. Pilgrims intently watched his every gesture for signs. But as an instrument for the resurgence of the Church in Canada, it barely stirred the winds of joy and peace into a breeze. Only half the expected number of pilgrims came, leaving behind a massive deficit despite oodles of sponsors, government handouts and free advertising. Some success.