Pope’s papal visit costly but worth it


Otto Tielemans

Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Pope Benedict XVI made history this month by making his first papal visit to both Mexico and Cuba at the ripe age of 84. Greeted by mobs of Catholics in both countries, the pope swept across the countryside spreading the message of the Catholic religion while sharing the churches view in regard to topics such as abortion and gay marriage. He even went on to describe how communism no longer worked in the police-state of Cuba.

By tuning into the widely televised papal visit, it became obvious that the pope’s visit did more than spread of God. Referring to last Sunday’s mass, which took place in Guanajuato’s Bicentennial Park (which had a turnout of more than half a million people), a person could see how the pope’s sheer presence energized many of the poverty-stricken souls who find themselves in a heated battle between drug cartels and military officials.

However, it is the price of the actual visit that makes many wonder if the visit was beneficial or not. Guanajuato alone spent $17 million on the construction of an altar worthy for the pope. This doesn’t even include the tens of millions of dollars spent on security, entertainment, and luxurious transportation by both the Mexican and Cuban government.

Overall, the price tag is estimated to be over $124 million dollars. A sum, which many argue, could have gone into financing more humanitarian projects. Healthcare could have been brought to needy parts of Mexico; food could have been distributed among those who are starving; school tuitions could have been paid for children. The overall quality of life could have significantly improved for many Mexicans. 

Even Cuba who claims to have the best health care, education, and food distribution system could have benefited. The millions of dollars spent on the papal visit could have been used to support the free-service institutions that are sponsored by the government. Money could have even been used by the government to stock up on energy sources to avoid the blackouts that the president, Raul Castro, warns of possibly occurring.

Unfortunately, in this modern age where government funds find themselves going missing; who is to say that the money would have been used at all? Who is to say that the money would not have ended up in the pockets of corrupt government officials? As in Africa, corruption is a serious problem in both Mexico and Cuba and funds for humanitarian projects much too often find themselves in the pockets of others. Now, is this saying that this happens all the time? No, of course not. If it did, then Mexico and Cuba would find themselves in an even worse situation.

Also, with the violence between drug lords and the Mexican government dragging on, the money may have been used to fund the ongoing fight. 

The pope’s visit may have been over-the-top, overpriced, and overhyped, but at the end of the day I cannot think of anything that would have been more beneficial for both Mexico and Cuba.

Many youths and adults are growing up in hostile and poverty stricken environments with no sign of improvement. Not only does this lead to a loss of life, but it also results in a loss of faith. A loss of faith in one’s country, leaders, and religion. What Pope Benedict XVI did was bring hope to a people who for too long had been consumed by the darkness of national turmoil. Especially in Cuba where he openly talked about the “authentic freedom” and how communism was no longer compatible for the police state.

Over all, he planted the seed of knowledge, faith, and encouragement in those who follow his cause. He brought enlightenment to the people who find themselves in a rigid system that makes socio-economic mobility impossible. He gave people the ideas that are beneficial for a country that is going through a phase of change. Popes Benedict XVI visit was costly, but worth every penny. 

What do you think?