The people are voting with their feet when it comes to Pope Benedict's visit to Britain this week.

A crowd of 300,000 was expected for a mass in Glasgow which many Irish will attend.

Now they predict only 80,000 will come.

Estimates are also being revised downwards for a large gathering in Birmingham and in Hyde Park in London.

Church authorities are now trying desperately to distribute thousands of tickets through school throughout Britain but the demand is simply not there.

In a letter sent to heads of Catholic schools in London last week, the Archbishop of Westminster, Rev Vincent Nichols, issued an “urgent” call for parties of schoolchildren to attend the Hyde Park event.

Should we be surprised? Church authorities say that the reason is that a closing date of August 2nd to order tickets clashed withh the peak holiday season -- but most observers are not buying that.

Nor am I. It is no coincidence that the best selling book in Britain this week is 'The Case of the Pope" by attorney Geoffrey Robinson.

The blurb says it all.

"Is the Pope morally or legally responsible for the negligence that has allowed so many terrible crimes to go unpunished? This title delivers a devastating indictment of the way the Vatican has run a secret legal system that shields paedophile priests from criminal trial around the world.

The fact is that this pope is unloved and is proving an embarrassment.

His cover-up of pedophile scandals clearly orchestrated from the highest levels of the Vatican have sickened and disgusted millions of ordinary faithful Catholics.

The faithful departed will have no truck with this Vicar of Christ and the Vatican enablers who let the pedophile crisis spread.

They know the message of the Gospel is not what has been preached from the Vatican over the past decade.

Sure the church has endured over the centuries, in spite of 'dungeon fire and sword' as the hymn goes.

But there have been disgraceful episodes too, such as the inquisition and the cozying up to the Nazis in World War II.

The pedophile crisis is just the latest. Ordinary Catholics deserve better. They know Benedict will carry his secret cover-ups to the grave.

He is not a man to come and lay garlands at his feet.

British Catholics know better than that.