Majority would oppose Papal visit, finds poll

A PAPAL visit to Ireland would be opposed by over half the public in the wake of the Ryan Report, according to a national survey.

The poll, carried out by Newstalk radio, found that 51% of 1,108 people questioned would not welcome Pope Benedict if he were to put an Irish trip on his itinerary any time soon.

While the margin opposed to a visit is small, it stands in stark contrast to the euphoric response his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, received on his historic visit here in 1979 when he was universally welcomed.

Just 4% of those who responded to the poll said they had actually changed their Mass-going habits since the publication of the Ryan Report, but changing attitudes towards the Catholic Church’s involvement in the day-to-day life of the country are evident in the 70% who said all primary schools should be run by the State.

Just over half (52%) believe religion has no place in schools, as they say religious instruction should only take place outside the classroom, but the majority don’t believe children in school should be exposed to the details of the Ryan Report, with 68% opposing religious teaching incorporating lessons on clerical abuse.

The answers, broadcast by Newstalk yesterday, were gathered over a four-day period ending last Thursday, showing feelings are still running high a month after publication of the report.

Typical responses by those opposed to a Papal visit included: “A visit now is just tokenism” and “Until he condemns what happened and pays compensation for his vile colleagues’ actions, then he shouldn’t be allowed set foot in this country“.

Those in favour of the State taking control of all primary schools made comments such as: “It’s about time that Ireland became a secular state. Theocracy has had its day here” and “The Church can run schools if they want, but they should receive zero funding from the State.”

Opinions varied, however, with many people feeling a Papal visit would be an important gesture of solidarity with abuse survivors and others believing there should be a mix of Catholic- and State-run schools.


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