Few Britons back Pope's visit: poll

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Only 14 percent of Britons are in favour of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain this week, according to a survey published in The Times newspaper on Tuesday.

More than two-thirds say they are unhappy with the visit, either because of the cost or because of the views held by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, said the poll of 1,508 adults by the Populus institute.

The poll, carried out between September 10 and 12, found that only 14 percent of people agreed they were "positively in favour of his visit and we should not quibble about the inevitable costs."

A total of 57 percent said they "don't feel strongly either way about the pope's visit to Britain but we should not be spending a penny of taxpayers' money on it."

The British government is paying between 10 and 12 million pounds for the state elements of the visit. The security operation will cost up to 1.5 million pounds.

The Catholic churches in Britain are contributing up to 10 million pounds for the religious aspects. People attending public events on the visit must buy a "pilgrim pack" costing up to 25 pounds (30 euros, 39 dollars).

Eleven percent of those surveyed said they were "opposed to the Pope coming to Britain because of his track record and the views he espouses."

The survey found that 73 percent of people thought the pope should drop the outright opposition to abortion, with 79 percent saying the same for contraception, 70 percent for homosexuality and 72 percent for the ordination of women priests.

The findings come a day after another poll showed that a majority of British Catholics fear the child abuse scandal has permanently damaged the church's reputation but their support for the pope remains strong.

Benedict will be the first pope to pay a state visit to Britain. His predecessor John Paul II made a "pastoral" visit in 1982.

© 2010 AFP

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