British faithful support pope despite different views: poll

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A majority of British Catholics fear the child abuse scandal has permanently damaged the church's reputation but their support for Pope Benedict XVI remains strong ahead of his visit, a poll said Monday.

This is despite significant divergence with the pope's views on abortion, homosexuality and contraception.

The YouGov online poll of 1,636 Catholics for the ITV broadcaster found 87 percent believed that revelations of child sex abuse by clerics had permanently harmed the reputation of the church.

But despite criticism of the way the pope handled the scandal, 72 percent believed he should stay in his position, compared to 14 percent who wanted him to stand down.

The findings follow a BBC poll at the weekend which suggested that 52 percent of British Catholics said the scandal had shaken their faith in the church's leadership.

Meanwhile Monday's poll also found that 30 percent believed abortion should always be allowed, with only 11 percent saying that it should only be allowed as an indirect consequence of life-saving treatment.

Just four percent accepted that contraception was wrong, compared to 71 percent who said it should be used to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancy.

And 41 percent said both homosexual and heterosexual relationships should be celebrated, with just 11 percent saying gay sex was morally wrong.

YouGov conducted the poll between August 31 and September 2, ahead of the pope's state visit to Britain which begins on Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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