Today in Crikey, The Power Index‘s Paul Barry valiantly attempts to cost the new multimillion dollar pilgrim centre at the Vatican, known as Domus Australia.

Cardinal Pell was photographed beaming with pride at the ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday to launch what he hopes will become many Australian Catholic pilgrims’ “home away from home”. Domus Australia includes a 32-room hotel offering Aussie breakfasts and an Australian take on Catholicism, with a two-metre high portrait of the Virgin Mary, entitled Our Lady of the Southern Cross.

As Paul Barry reports: “During the ceremony, Cardinal Pell said the project has been funded by church money, donations and loans that will need to be repaid. Last week he confessed he would be shocked if Domus did not pay its way. ‘I once said in a moment of rashness that blind Freddy could make a bob out of this and I think we will be able to’.”

Wonder what the archdioceses of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and the diocese of Lismore, think about that moment of rashness, given that, according to Cardinal Pell’s biographer Tess Livingstone, they’ll be bearing most of the load?

We’ll defer to a Church insider for the last (understated) word on this: “Australian Catholics are entitled to ask if the money could have been better spent. St Vinnies or Catholic Schools could all use that sort of money.”

That, or an extra mint on the pillow for travel-weary pilgrims.

Every Thursday, Crikey editor Sophie Black and Crikey‘s Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane will talk the week’s events in the national capital.

Visit the podcast page (or via our iTunes page) on our website at 4pm AEST to download or listen.