The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has launched an international appeal for donations to help restore Christ the Redeemer, which has developed several cracks due to lightning strikes, reports the Religion News Service.
“Christ the Redeemer, with its open arms, is the greatest showcase for Rio and Brazil,” said Cardinal Orani João Tempesta, the Archbishop of Rio, at the launch of the “Friends of Christ the Redeemer” campaign earlier this month.
“If you think of Paris, you think of the Eiffel Tower. If you go to New York, you visit the Statue of Liberty.”
The initiative, he added, was a way of “continuing to spread the Christian faith.”
But the iconic attraction suffers from numerous cracks due to lightning strikes, said Fr Omar Raposo, dean in charge of the upkeep of the monument.
“For the past 85 years the monument has been maintained with the help of private donations and the Catholic Church’s own resources,” Fr Raposo said. “But unfortunately, with the economic crisis in Brazil, we need to appeal for more contributions to make ends meet.”
The statue was completed in the Tijuca National Park in 1931. It receives more than three million visitors a year.
However, the sanctuary where the 30-metre structure is located doesn’t receive an income from the park’s ticket office.
“Even though it’s the main draw in the park and the most visited monument in the country, we don’t get a (cent) from ticket sales,” Fr Raposo said.
Photo: Cardinal Orani João Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janiero, launches the campaign last week (Raphael Freire)