"THE RATZINGER EFFECT"
"With donations to the Church from around the world almost doubling and pilgrims pouring into Rome in ever-greater numbers, Vatican watchers are beginning to reassess the two-year-old pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and noting a positive “Ratzinger effect”.
Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, head of economic affairs at the Holy See, said that the “remarkable increase” in both donations and numbers of pilgrims showed that there was “a symbiosis, a mutual sympathy between this Pope and Christian people everywhere”.
Presenting the Holy See’s annual budget yesterday, Cardinal Sebastiani noted that not only had it closed last year with a surplus of €2.4 million, partly thanks to diocesan donations, there had also been a “huge jump” in “Peter’s Pence”, the annual church collections given directly to the Pope to use for charity, from $60 million (£30 million) in 2005 to $102 million. “The days when people talked of papal bankruptcy are past,” said Marco Tosatti, Vatican correspondent of La Stampa.
Record numbers attend Benedict’s weekly audiences, and seven million people a year now visit St Peter’s, a rise of 20 per cent. Similar increases are recorded for pilgrimages to Catholic shrines at Assisi, Lourdes, Fatima in Portugal and Madonna di Guadalupe in Mexico. “This is a Ratzinger phenomenon,” reported La Repubblica."
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