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How much is the Pope's visit costing the U.S.?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind

Pope Francis’ trip to the U.S. continued today in Washington, DC with a visit to the White House, lots of baby kissing and a late-afternoon mass. Tomorrow he’ll continue on to New York and then Philadelphia.

Along with a chartered plane and a super-secure Pope mobile, the Pontiff also requires a detailed security force, local police and street closures in each city he visits. That costs a lot of money. It’s been estimated that his visit to Philadelphia could cost $48 million alone.

So who’s footing the bill?

That’s a complicated question. The simple answer is everybody but the Vatican. “The Vatican never pays out of pocket for this,” says Gerald Posner, author of God’s Bankers. “It’s really either the local Catholic dioceses that he’s visiting or sometimes the government.”

The Pope’s visit to the U.S. has been classified as a national security special event by the department of Homeland Security. That means they’ll be spending some of their annual allocation of $4.5 million on the visit but the rest will be coming from local budgets and Catholic groups. The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is currently attempting to raise $45 million to pay for some of the expenses that come with a visit from the Pope.

“If they can’t raise that money the state and city will pick up the tab so the taxpayer may subsidize the Pope a little bit,” says Posner.

Cities, of course, are hoping to gain from a boost in tourism during the Pope’s visit. The Vatican also stands to gain something indirectly. “The Catholics in the country that the Pope visits get energized and want to send more money back. His favorability ratings go up and they want to help out,” says Posner. He calls it the “Good Francis” effect.