MANILA, Philippines - With only one week to go before the May 30th deadline, only 600Catholic youths will get their Australian visas to go to Sydney for the World Youth Day (WYD) this July.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a statement Wednesday that this may lead to a relatively low turnout.
It said the granted visas already include those granted to 56 delegates representing the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) of the CBCP.
"The statistics provided by the Embassy is considerably low, considering that the deadline is fast approaching," said Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission for the Youth.
While visa application for WYD pilgrims is free of charge, the low figure was attributed primarily to the financial requirement the entire WYD registration entails.
Garganta said an individual pilgrim vying to fly to Sydney, Australia this July to be part of the 23rd WYD needs at least US $1,800 to cover his expenses during the event.
He said the estimate would not even cover the pilgrim's allowance for contingencies.
In this estimate, Garganta said at least US $1,400 will be spent for the air fare alone while at least US $369 will cover the registration fee, accommodation, meals, transportation and taxes.
"It has always been a problem for WYD pilgrim applicants complying with the financial requirements of the processing. Financial matters are undoubtedly a major concern for them to fulfill even before applying for their visas," he said.
But he said the Australian Embassy will surely receive and grant additional visa applications as the deadline nears.
For its part, the Embassy had just announced that it cannot guarantee visa applications made after May 31. -GMANews.TV