U.K. diverted aid money to fund pope visit, lawmakers find
Pope Benedict XVI and British Prime Minister David Cameron during last September's papal visit to England.
February 3rd, 2011
09:59 AM ET

U.K. diverted aid money to fund pope visit, lawmakers find

By Sakshi Grover, CNN

The British government diverted 1.85 million pounds ($3 million) of foreign aid money to help pay for the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI last year, lawmakers charged Thursday.

"How does the papal visit count as aid?" asked the parliamentary committee that oversees Britain's Department for International Development.

The committee spotted the diversion of aid money when going over the department's accounts, members said.

"Spending on (the) pope's visit does not constitute official development assistance and is not justified at all," committee chairman Malcolm Bruce, a Liberal Democrat, told CNN.

"Many people will be as surprised as we were to discover that U.K. aid money was used to fund the pope's visit last year," he charged.

The government justified the diversion to lawmakers by saying "the Catholic Church has done some good work in developing countries," Bruce said - an explanation he called "lame."

While noting that the amount was a very small part of the aid department's 8 billion pound ($13 billion) 2010 budget, Bruce said that "raising this query will serve as a warning and discourage (it from) happening again."

The British government contributed 12 million pounds ($19.5 million) to the cost of the state visit in September, meaning that the money taken from DFID was about 15% of the total British government outlay. The Catholic Church also helped fund the visit.

Lord Chris Patten, who coordinated the visit from the British government side, is in South Africa and not available for comment, a spokeswoman said.

Bruce said not all of the aid department's budget went directly to aid projects.

But, he said, "the money spent must justify our commitment on overseas aid and development."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Europe • Pope Benedict XVI • United Kingdom

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. geraldh

    Why do people lash out at the Pope and CC on this thread. It's not about the Church. The government used the wrong pot of money or this wouldn't be a story. But people just take it as another opportunity to bash the Church.

    February 5, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  2. Halleluljah

    The Harlot's day has arrived. Rev 18:5-8. Now the judging of her is being metted out. And when her and her false counterparts are destroyed the Greatest Tribulation this world has ever seen or will see again will follow shortly thereafter. Rev 7:14, Mt 24:21. Be on the right side of the conflict. He has sent and will send his messangers to your door. Just like he did when he sent his Son, Apostles, and disciples. Be sure to listen and see if what they tell u is truth. WHAT MEANS EVERLASTING LIFE? John 17:3. Yes the take in knowledge of them then act on it. Dont get left outside the boat!!! Mt 24:37-39. Mt 24:14, Mt 28:19,20

    February 5, 2011 at 7:11 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.