Does Spending on Papal Visit to UK Count as Aid?

Pope Benedict XVI parades in Glascow, one of the stops during his visit to England and Scotland in September 2010. The U.K. Department for International Development spent about 2 million pounds (USD3.1 million) for the pope’s visit. Photo by: The Papal Visit / CC BY-NC The Papal VisitCC BY-NC

The U.K. Department for International Development spent about 2 million pounds (USD3.1 million) on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the nation. As the British government widened the definition of what constitutes aid, spending on the papal visit “sets a very poor precedent indeed for that change,” according to the political blog, “Left Foot Forward.”

A DfID spokesperson defended the department’s spending on the pope’s visit, saying the Catholic Church’s influence is crucial in the global fight against poverty.

“The visit took place just days before the critical [United Nations Millennium Development Goals] Summit in New York, and was an opportunity for the Pope to speak out on behalf of the billion Catholics across the world and put pressure on world leaders to take action against global poverty,” the spokesperson told “Left Foot Forward.” “The Pope’s influence has been illustrated through previous interventions such as his letter to G8 leaders ahead of the L’Aquila Summit last year, calling for action on hunger. G8 leaders responded with a USD20 billion food security initiative.”

DfID’s contribution to the 10 million pounds spent on the papal visit (one-fifth of the amount) was “higher than might have been expected for a department geared at international development,” says “Left Foot Forward.”

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.