Last Updated:Saturday - 12/11/2010
September 9, 2002
WYD 'investment' turns sour
Many reasons cited for #30M debt
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
World Youth Day in Toronto is over. The pope has gone home. Everyone had a great time.
All that's left now is for Catholics across the country to dig into their pockets to help pay off the $30-million deficit of World Youth Day 2002.
The hat is again being passed around even though many parishioners had already contributed to WYD 2002 through two national collections, Days in the Diocese fundraisers and by supporting money-raising campaigns for local participants.
The Church considers the contributions to be an "investment" in youth and the future of the Catholic Church. But some wonder how great the dividend would be had the $30 million been "invested" directly into existing or new parish youth programs and ministries in Canada, or campaigns to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life.
Nevertheless, the Catholic bishops of Canada have declared WYD 2002 to be "a huge success." It's a curious judgment considering:
Given the above, if the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops truly believes that WYD 2002 with its $30 million deficit was "a huge success," what would it consider a failure?
There is no doubt that Canadian Church leaders worked hard to produce a first rate, world-class event.
And Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the multilingual, multi-gifted national director of WYD 2002, was the right man for the job on an organizational level. He and his WYD staff deserve nothing but praise for their professionalism and hard work in promoting, producing and ensuring WYD 2002 went off without a hitch.
The logistics involved in hosting the largest single event in the history of the Canadian Church were truly mind-boggling and go a long way - perhaps not far enough for some - in explaining why administration costs were $14.5 million, or almost a half of the total deficit.
For whatever reasons, fewer people attended WYD 2002 than expected and the Church was left with a multi-million dollar shortfall.
And as it did following the 1984 papal visit, the hierarchy has again turned to the faithful to help pay off the deficit for an event many believe they were never consulted about in the first place. The low registration figure in Toronto may be blamed on circumstances beyond the Church's control but it doesn't explain why the cost of hosting WYD 2002 in Canada was almost five times higher than Denver's WYD in 1993. The U.S. celebration had a $3 million deficit and no registration fee was charged.
At a news conference in October 2000, Church officials were asked what assurances they could give that Catholics in Canada would not be asked to pick up the tab for WYD 2002 as they were after the last papal visit.
The response was that they could give no guarantee but that the pope's tour of Canada in 1984 was "a completely different operation" because it involved travelling to several cities and dioceses over a 12-day period.
World Youth Day, on the other hand, would be "easier to manage" and "more controllable," because it would be held at one location and organized by a single team of people, they said.
Unfortunately, those factors failed to control the spiraling costs of WYD 2002 and in April the organizers met with the bishops from across Canada at an emergency meeting at which the bishops lent the WYD committee $24 million to pay outstanding bills.
Initially, corporate sponsorships, government contributions, donations from individuals and religious communities, and registration fees were expected to cover all the expenses. Two national parish collections were added later.
But by the end of the six-day event, WYD 2002 still needed another $30 million just to break even, prompting the Church in Canada to launch a national public appeal for donations.
The $25-million deficit of WYD in Paris in 1997 was paid off after an appeal and no doubt the deficit in Canada will also be erased - eventually.
When it is, perhaps World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto can be considered a success. But a "huge success?"
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