Four in 10 French Catholics want pope out: survey

22nd March 2009, Comments 0 comments

More than four in 10 French Catholics want the pope to step down and most want the church to change its stance on abortion, divorce and homosexuality, according to a poll to be published Sunday.

PARIS - Some 43 percent of Catholics want Pope Benedict XVI to resign or retire, compared to 54 percent who do not, according to an IFOP poll to be published in France's Le Journal du Dimanche weekly.

The poll was conducted over telephone on Thursday and Friday and involved 620 Catholics spread over France, aged 18 or above.

Sentiments against Benedict are higher among non-practising Catholics, with some 47 percent wanting the pope out of office, according to the survey, while only about a third of practising Catholics do.

Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of Catholics polled want the church to modify its position on contraception and abortion, while significant majorities also want it to change its opposition to remarriage after divorce as well as homosexuality.

Moreover, almost half consider Benedict does a bad job defending the values of Catholicism, according to the IFOP poll -- a sharp increase from 13 percent who judged so in a separate survey last August for La Vie magazine.

Twenty-two percent said he was doing a good job, 28 percent said it was "neither good, nor bad" and one percent refused comment.

The conservative pontiff has faced a rash of criticism in recent months, notably over his decision to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust denying bishop.

Benedict's remarks on condoms and abortion during his current visit to Africa have generated fresh outcry.

The Vatican sought to soften the reaction Saturday, saying the church did not oppose medical care for mothers that results in the unintentional death of the foetus.

AFP / Expatica

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