Pope John Paul II has been gone more than a month, but he is anything but forgotten by the nine U.S. cities and the Roman Catholic dioceses still paying the bills for his 10-day visit.
Phoenix shelled out $86,000, more than three times what it spent on last year's national Fiesta Bowl between Penn State and Miami. San Antonio spent almost 10 times that amount, more than it has ever paid for any other event, including last year's Grand Prix auto race.
Though the final tally may never be known, the papal stay cost more than $32 million, or about $133,000 an hour, according to estimates compiled by church officials and public agencies. About $20 million was borne by Catholic dioceses and $12 million by local, state and federal governments who were responsible for security, cleanup and, in several cities, transportation.
Costs to employers who let people off work and expenses of the almost 20,000 media representatives who covered the trip were not included.
The pope's visit, his first through the South and Southwest, was designed to focus Americans' attention on the poor, and the irony of its high price-tag has not gone unnoticed by some Catholics. But for the people who put the trip together, this was not the time to scrimp in the land of plenty.
Consider the decision by a group of lay Catholics in San Francisco to spend $8,000 on two video screens to show the pope a 12-minute tape at St. Mary's Cathedral. "We could have rented two screens for $100 each, wouldn't you think?" asked the Rev. Miles Riley, director of communications.
But the steering committee thought it would be tacky to suspend the screens from the cathedral's vaulted ceiling, so they came up with an alternative: custom-designed screens, each 20 feet wide, to rise out of mahogany boxes stationed on a wall behind the altar. The screens and their boxes, built in Europe and shipped here, required four people to carry them and an oversized van to haul them.
"We called it the $8,000 solution to a $200 problem," Riley quipped.
Riley, ever optimistic, believes someone will want to buy the screens and reimburse the diocese for at least part of its cost. "Somebody out there will think it's an answer to a prayer," he said. San Francisco, like several other dioceses, is in the process of selling anything remotely associated with the papal trip in order to make up its deficit of $1 million.
About 4,000 square yards of mauve and grey carpet from a mass at Candlestick Park are for sale, along with 1,500 pieces of plywood from the altar, 3.25 acres of tarpaulin and 10 different colors of flag bunting.
The San Francisco diocese spent about $3 million on the pope's 20-hour visit, more than any other diocese. The city spent more than $500,000. The total spent in Los Angeles exceeded that, with the diocese spending $2.5 million and the city about $1.7 million. New Orleans spent almost $3 million.
Columbia, S.C., was the least expensive stop. It cost the Charleston diocese a mere $475,000, the city of Columbia $120,000, in part because the pope stayed only five hours.
The length of the pope's stay did not necessarily dictate expenses, however, as Monterey, Calif., knows. He spent six hours in Monterey County, celebrating Mass at the Laguna Seca Raceway and visiting a mission in Carmel. Cost to the diocese: $1.8 million. Compared with that, the county's cost -- about $74,000 -- seems like peanuts.
Most government bodies opted to pay for the pope's visit from existing budgets. Thus municipal departments, such as the San Francisco police, are praying that the rest of the fiscal year is uneventful. Overtime pay for the San Francisco police cost $335,000, or more than one-third of the department's yearly $856,000 special events budget.
But the host dioceses had little money in reserve to draw upon. Most set about two years ago to raise money in advance, often relying on professional fund-raisers. Five dioceses -- New Orleans, Los Angeles, Monterey and Detroit, as well as San Francisco -- are still raising funds to pay bills.
At first, the host bishops agreed not to commercialize the visit, according to San Francisco's Riley. But as anticipated costs started rising, "there were a few slips," as he put it.
The Phoenix diocese promoted the pope's stay on "everything from Dixie cups to cranes," according to William R. Shover, director of community services for the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette newspapers, who acted as finance chairman for the diocese. A chain of convenience stores in New Orleans sold $2 lapel pins, raising about $25,000.
Large corporate contributions, in money and materials, often made the difference in solvency. The Miami diocese pulled in $1 million in private money, more than half its $1.8 million cost. Corporate help is still being sought in Detroit, which recently enlisted Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca and Detroit Tigers President Lee Monahan to help meet its $2 million tab.
Only the San Antonio diocese opted not to go for the big corporate bucks. Texas' 14 dioceses each were asked to contribute a set amount toward San Antonio's estimated cost of $2.5 million, and when some of the smaller parishes could not match that request, the larger ones made up the difference.
While some have protested the high costs of the visit to local and state governments, they have not done so very loudly because the bulk of the secular costs were described as security-related. "It's a whole lot of money, and our people raised some concerns," said Robert L. Maddox, executive director of Americans United for Church and State. "But given the pope's accessibility and vulnerablity, I do not know how the government could have avoided the expense."
Protecting the pope was the most costly item. The Secret Service spent $5.7 million, state police in the seven states John Paul visited more than $1 million. States also paid for costs of National Guard troops, which have not been tallied. Cities put entire police forces on duty, many for overtime pay, and erected miles of rope and barrels along the papal route to control crowds. In San Antonio alone, more than 800 barrels lined 45 miles of road.