Lisbon (EFE).- The altar that will host the final mass of Pope Francis on World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon in August has caused discord in Portugal, with criticism of the high costs of organizing an event whose budget exceeds 160 million euros.
The imposing stage, with a height of close to three stories and capacity to house some 2,000 people, will exceed five million euros, according to the contracts unveiled this week and which have ignited the wildfire in Portugal.
In the center of attention is above all the mayor of Lisbon, the conservative Carlos Moedas, since it will be the consistory that assumes its construction.
Moedas has been defending the chosen project for days – awarded with total “transparency”, insists the City Council – and asks that it be seen as an “investment”, since it will be available for future events in the Portuguese capital.
But it has not been enough to stop the criticism and even from the Catholic Church itself they recognized that the cost is high.
“I also confess that the figure hurt me,” said the president of the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation, auxiliary bishop Américo Aguiar, on Thursday.
Aguiar advanced that they will review the requirements that the Church requested for the stage and will eliminate those that are not “essential”, in order to lower the cost of the infrastructure.
The Lisbon mayor was quick to make himself available to review the project and follow the guidelines of the Church.
The pope’s altar, on everyone’s lips in Portugal
No one in Portugal has been left without talking about the altar of discord this week.
The Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa -practicing Catholic-, has shown reluctance to the millionaire cost of the stage and has resorted to the figure of the pope himself to ask for more austerity.
“The Portuguese hope that in detail it corresponds to what the Pope’s thought is, which is characterized by defending a simple, poor, non-triumphalist version,” he said on Thursday.
Parties to the left and right of the chamber have criticized the disbursement: the Bloco de Esquerda censured the million-dollar investment and the “opacity” around the event and the liberals speak of “World Waste Day.”
The prime minister, the socialist António Costa, is one of those who has stayed the furthest away from the controversy and limited himself to recalling that WYD “is a great international project, which mobilizes the entire country.”
But the controversy has crossed borders and even the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who was in Lisbon this week, wanted to leave her opinion.
WYD can turn Lisbon into a “world epicenter”, defended Ayuso, who recalled that the same event left a profit of 350 million euros in Madrid in 2011.
The case has also reached the Vatican. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, explained to the ACI Prensa agency that the WYD organization is “local” and did not participate in any decision on the cost of the altar.
A global cost of 160 million
185 days after the event, which will take place between August 1 and 6, the figures are trickling but point to a global cost of 160 million euros.
This Thursday the WYD Foundation advanced an amount for the first time and, although the Budget is not closed, the Church estimates spending around 80 million euros.
They are added to another 80 million promised by the rest of the entities that financially support WYD: the Portuguese State (36.5 million) and the municipalities of Lisbon (35 million) and neighboring Loures (9 million).