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Pope Francis to use Skoda during visit to Ireland

By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 August, 2018

Pope Francis will use a Skoda, the modest family saloon, when he is not using  the popemobile, during his pastoral visit to Ireland later this month.

Businesswomen and publisher Norah Casey revealed the Pontiff’s means of transport on Sunday in an interview on RTE Radio 1’s Marian Finucane Show with Brendan O’Connor.

Allianz Insurance is the headline sponsor for the World Meeting of Families, but other companies and corporations in Ireland and the US have made donations towards costs.

“A lot of corporates have given to us privately – that is not a surprise, it happens a lot,” she explained. “He is driving a Skoda, for instance, while he is in Ireland. Skoda have provided the car.”

“He is a man who doesn’t like a lot of trappings,” she said of the Argentine Pontiff.

Ms Casey, who has been heavily involved in fundraising efforts for the August 25–26 papal visit and the WMOF2018, said a lot of work had gone into who the organisers would and wouldn’t take money from around the papal visit. She described it as “a huge ethical dive” into interested companies, to see who they and their shareholders were and what they did.

One of the key themes for the Catholic gathering and papal visit is the environment, and that was to the fore when fundraisers approached companies for sponsorship, as well as issues such as gambling and alcohol. “They are areas we can’t touch,” she said.

She declined to give a figure for how much money overall has been fundraised so far but she did reveal that €21m is needed to cover the costs of the event.

“It is for all of the infrastructure – there are just over 50 people working on the World Meeting of Families and there are 7,000 volunteers,” she said on Sunday.

She added that if any money was left over after all the bills have been paid, it would go to a good cause and one which is close to Pope Francis’ heart.

She underlined that the Church in Ireland will underwrite the World Meeting of Families and the visit of the Pope.

“I just know that he himself (Pope Francis) does not like overt commercial sponsorship of anything; he is very uncomfortable around those kinds of things. He is a very humble man himself and he doesn’t like to be seen to be involved in large commercial organisations.”

Ms Casey added that the Pope is “very pro-business”. He had made many statements about its role in providing employment and taking people away from homelessness and poverty, she said.

Speaking about her own personal admiration for Pope Francis, Ms Casey said, “I like this Pope. I have said it many times: he is one of the most popular leaders in the world. That is not the reason I like him – I think he is a reformer.”

She said conversations about women priests and married clergy and misogyny in the Church “are badly needed in Ireland”.

“We have been super damaged, myself included. I’ve already said I’ve had a chequered history. When Richard [her late husband, Richard Hannaford] died, I discovered all the industrial abuse. I was at the forefront of all of that in the UK – I couldn’t have been more angry with the Catholic Church.”

But Ms Casey said the Church was doing a lot to help those affected by “appalling” homelessness and child poverty in Ireland.

“It is no surprise that the three organisations that prop the homeless up are run by three members of the religious,” she said.

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