Pope Benedict XVI is facing tough opposition and widespread apathy ahead of his visit to Britain on Thursday, a new opinion poll shows.
It is shaping up to be totally different to the 1982 visit by his predecessor John Paul 11 which was akin to a rock star tour.
Protestors are demanding action and answers from the pope regarding the clerical sexual abuse of children, while many others are angry at the £20m cost of the visit., which is co-funded by the government.
According to The Guardian, 77% of people surveyed said that the trip should not be funded by taxpayers, while 79% saying they had “no personal interest” in the visit.
Protest the Pope, one group with nearly 9,000 Facebook members, is planning a demonstration march in London against the pontiff’s visit. Terry Sanderson, the leader of the movement and the president of the National Secular Society, said that child sex abuse was "the one thing that the pope personally needs to answer for.”
While secularists are widely opposed, the pope is also facing criticism from Catholics as well.
"We are looking for the church to be more collaborative and to talk and listen to people more. It seems to us that the church is moving backwards, not forwards,” said Pat Brown, the spokesperson for the Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO)in Britain.
However, others believe that many people are looking forward to the visit.
"There has been criticism from a small proportion of the population who oppose the visit in principle and they have been very ferocious in their attacks, but one wonders who these people speak for," said Austen Ivereigh, a Catholic journalist and the organizer of Catholic Voices, an unofficial response unit.
"The attacks seem to be coming from militant secularists and radical humanists disturbed by faith who want to chase religion entirely from the public square and deny it any voice at all.
"Their irrational hostility and fanaticism undermines their claim to pluralism and demonstrates that actually it is the pope who is the true humanist."
Father Federico Lombardi, the pope’s spokesman, said that there had been opposition on past visits, but added: "In this journey to Britain, it's broader because there are more groups of an atheist nature or that are anti-papal which are active and have demonstrated."
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