How Much Did the Papal Visit Actually Cost the United States?

By Matthew Kochen,
Money & Investing Writer

Pope Francis’ historic trip to the U.S. consisted of landing in Washington D.C., visiting New York City, and arriving in Philadelphia before his departure on Sunday.

He became only the fourth Pope to ever visit the United States.

During his visit, he left a trail of costs that our country had to bear.

Hosting a Pope is extremely expensive.

Most of the costs consist of security and logistics in order to keep the Pope and the American people safe.

Part of the Pope’s six day stay here will be covered by the federal government.

The event was given a designation of national special security event by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, federal grants will be given from the department, along with the State Department, to fund the necessary security measures.

When world leaders or other high-dignitaries such as the Pope visit, the U.S. government provides protection through state and local authorities, which is later reimbursed.

$4.5 million is the total allotted amount for all national special security events this year by the Department of Homeland Security.

It seems unlikely that the entire $4.5 million budget will cover the costs, so it remains to be seen if the federal government will allocate more money.

Excluding the security and logistics, there are still a myriad of other expenses that must be accounted for. These costs include building infrastructure, transportation, labor, and services like cleaning up after events.

One of the main reasons for Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. was to attend the World Meeting of Families, a convention held every three years for the Catholic families of the world.

The World Meeting of Families raised anywhere from $30 million to $45 million to help cover these costs.

It is unclear whether the goal of $45 million was reached, but it was announced back in February that $30 million had been raised.

It is harder to estimate the total cost of Pope Francis’ six day stay in the United States when one considers the economic cost.

The enormous crowds of people that filed into the cities failed to generate the revenue that might have been expected from such a momentous occasion.

Large parts of Washington D.C. and New York City were closed to accommodate the presence of the pope.

This disrupted transportation and halted the local commerce.

The case was even more extreme for Philadelphia, where essentially the entire city closed.

The craziness of the papal visit chased regulars temporarily away from the city, and the influx of visitors were not big spenders.

Those who would have spent were hampered getting around by the crowds and closed roads.

The remainder of the cost will fall on taxpayers of Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. to absorb.

For comparison, a papal visit to Spain in 2010 cost the country over $16.5 million.

Estimates put the cost our taxpayers will absorb for the U.S. visit in the range of tens of millions of dollars.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 6th print edition.

Contact Matthew at


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