Most Britons against paying for pope's visit: survey

4th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

More than three quarters of Britons think the taxpayer should not fund Pope Benedict XVI's visit later this month, according to a survey published Saturday.

An online poll of 2,005 adults for public theology think tank Theos found that 77 percent did not agree that the taxpayer should contribute towards the September 16-19 state visit.

Though he is visiting England and Scotland in his capacity as the Vatican's head of state, some 76 percent rejected taxpayer funding on the grounds that he is a religious leader.

The results dovetailed with an Ipsos Mori poll of 996 adults out Thursday, which found that two thirds were indifferent about the pope's visit.

The government cost of the trip is expected to be 10 million pounds (15 million dollars, 12 million euros) to 12 million pounds.

The Catholic churches of England and Wales and of Scotland are expected to contribute up to 10 million pounds.

On top of this, the policing bill is expected to run into millions of pounds.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "This profligate visit has been planned without any consideration for its cost in a time of austerity.

"The poll confirms that the vast majority of people share the society's resentment at the waste of enormous sums of taxpayers' money on this visit.

"It is outrageous that the government is even funding the security costs of the religious element of the visit."

The trip to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham is the first papal visit to Britain since pope John Paul II's 1982 trip -- itself the first since England's king Henry VIII broke with the church in Rome in 1534.

Theos director Paul Wolley said: "It is only a relatively small proportion of people who are actively opposed to the visit itself. On the whole, the public is more disengaged than hostile."

© 2010 AFP

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