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An artist’s impression of the World Youth Day Lisbon altar and stage (Lisbon City Council)

World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon is generating controversy over the $A7.6m price tag for the altar area from which the Pontiff is expected to celebrate the closing Mass. Source: Crux.

Last week, Lisbon city officials published details for the massive 5000-square-metre altar and stage area, at a cost of 4.2 million Euro plus VAT, or value-added tax, for a total outlay close to $7.6 million.

The expense has generated criticism in the local press and from opposition politicians, who’ve demanded that Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas appear before Parliament to answer questions about the awarding of the contract.

“If the housing crisis was an altar for World Youth Day, it would already be solved,” Fabian Figueiredo, from the Left Bloc party, said on Twitter. “The problem is not lack of money but spending priorities.”

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni has told news outlets that the organisation of the August 1-6 World Youth Day is a local matter, and responsibility for the budget lies with the city council.

Mr Moedas, however, has told reporters that the plans were worked out in meetings with the organising committee for World Youth Day as well as representatives of both the church in Portugal and also the Vatican.

The altar-stage is designed to accommodate up to 2000 people, including the Pope and his party, 1000 bishops and 300 other concelebrants, a 200-member choir, 30 sign language translators and a 90-member orchestra, along with guests, staff and technicians.

City officials say the work will be complete in about 150 days, and that the stage will remain and can be used for other events in the future, such as outdoor concerts and rallies.


$5.4 million altar for World Youth Day generates controversy in Portugal (Crux)