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Costs for the pope's inaugural visit to Britain are soaring, with taxpayers contributing as much as £12m towards the four-day event, an increase of £4m on previous estimates.
Lord Patten of Barnes, David Cameron's special representative for the papal visit, said at a Foreign Office briefing today that the government had revised its initial contribution because of a failure to grasp the "complexity and sophistication" of the trip.
He told journalists that non-policing costs were first put at £15m, with taxpayers shouldering £8m of the bill and the Catholic church paying the balance.
"These estimates were made in good faith. But I think we underestimated the complexity and sophistication of a visit that has normal aspects of a state visit and pastoral events. We will have to make a larger commitment even though we have driven down some of the costs."
In 2009/10, the Treasury is expecting to take in £140.5 billion in gross income tax receipts. Social security benefits are projected to be £164.7 billion.
Catholic group's initiative will see the slogan 'Pope Benedict Ordain Women Now' appear on 10 buses throughout September
Last Thursday the Vatican issued sweeping changes to its laws on sexual abuse, extending the period in which charges can be filed against priests in church courts and broadening the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them. But while the document dealt mostly with paedophilia, it also stated that the "attempted ordination of a woman" to the priesthood was one of the most serious crimes in church law.