The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has initiated an international campaign to draw in donations for the restoration of Brazil's "Christ the Redeemer" statue, according to media reports.
The 98-foot-tall statue on Mount Corcovado in Rio, about 710 meters above sea level, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The statue is said to have been struck by lightning several times in the past, and has developed cracks which need to be repaired.
Economic crisis in the country has hit the donations for the upkeep of the statue. The site attracts around 3 million tourists per year. Entrance fees to the environmental reserve Tijuca National Park where the statue is located is 70 reais (approx. $21). The proceeds from sales of the tickets are used in maintenance of the park which costs around $1.5 million per year.
The money from tickets goes to the federal government which manages the park, and the archdiocese does not receive any money from the government for repairing the statue and paying around three dozen employees at the site.
The office of the priest said that businesses that usually donated money for maintenance of the statue are facing financial difficulties and might no longer provide support for its upkeep. Also, efforts by the Catholic Church to reach out to new partners have not been successful.
The statue was erected in the sanctuary atop the mountain in 1931, and was maintained with the help of charitable donations.
"For the past 85 years the monument has been maintained with the help of private donations and the Catholic Church's own resources," said Rev. Omar Raposo, dean in charge of the upkeep of the monument. "But unfortunately, with the economic crisis in Brazil, we need to appeal for more contributions to make ends meet."
"Up until today we've counted on the church's own resources and those of the private sector for maintenance," Raposo told local TV station Globo. "But with this big crisis in which we find ourselves today, we have great concern and need all of society to collaborate."