Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Sunday, 23 May 2010 01:07 UK

Catholics asked to help fund Pope's UK visit

Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope will address three open air masses while in the UK

Roman Catholic churchgoers are being urged to help meet a shortfall of more than £3m in funding for Pope Benedict's visit to the UK.

The Church has asked them to put at least £1m in Sunday's collection - largely to pay for three big open air masses at which the Pope will preside.

Because this is a state visit by Pope Benedict XVI, the bulk of the cost is being borne by the UK government.

The Papal visit will cost £15m, not including extra policing and security.

The Church's share of the cost is £7m, and with slightly less than half of it raised, congregations are being asked to contribute via the collection plate.

Most of the money will be spent on three open-air masses which the Church says could attract up to 400,000 people in total.

One of the masses will form the high point of the Pope's visit - the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman at Coventry Airport on 19 September.

Secularist groups have criticised the use of taxpayers' money to fund the visit of a religious leader.

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