Germans ambivalent about 'their' pope's visit: poll

14th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

More than eight out of 10 Germans expressed indifference at a forthcoming visit by the pope, a poll showed Wednesday, eight days before Benedict XVI's first official trip to his native land.

The Forsa institute survey showed that 86 percent of people thought the visit was "basically unimportant" or "totally unimportant" for them personally.

Of those who said they were Catholic, 63 percent shared this opinion, according to the poll of 1,008 respondents, compiled on September 8 and 9.

The survey came as a court in Berlin, the pontiff's first stop on his four-day trip, banned anti-pope protestors from marching from the city's landmark Brandenburg Gate.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people, representing around 60 associations from gays to alleged victims of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of priests, were expected to demonstrate against the pope, organisers said.

Guenter Dworek, head of Germany's lesbian and gay federation, told AFP: "We wanted to demonstrate as close as possible to where the event is taking place and begin within earshot of the Reichstag," the parliament building in Berlin.

Benedict is to give a speech in the parliament, which some deputies have vowed to boycott amid concerns over the separation of church and state.

The planned itinerary of the demonstration "is not compatible with the high level of potential risk and the particular demands that come when protecting the pope," said the court in a statement.

Initially feted as the first German-born pope in 500 years, Benedict's image in Germany has suffered following a series of controversies and a high-profile sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church last year.

© 2011 AFP

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