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Taxpayers 'should not pay for Pope'

More than three quarters of Britons think the taxpayer should not contribute to the cost of Pope Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to Scotland and England, according to a survey.

An online poll of 2,005 adults has shown 77% do not agree that the taxpayer should help shoulder the bill for the four-day trip even though it is a state visit. A similar proportion - 76% - rejected taxpayer funding for the visit on the grounds that he is a religious figure.

The findings were issued by Theos, the public theology think tank, as the Pope is due to arrive in Edinburgh on September 16, the first Papal visit to Britain since Pope John Paul II's 1982 trip.

The survey, conducted in August, shows widespread apathy in Britain towards 83-year-old Pope Benedict's arrival with 79% saying they have "no personal interest" in his visit.

Nearly one in four - 24% - agreed with the statement "I don't approve of the Pope's visit to Britain" with just under a half, or 49%, disagreeing. Under a third, or 29%, said they believed the visit would be good for Britain while 33% disagreed.

Fewer than one in five, or 18%, agreed with the statement that the Pope generally responds "wisely" to problems in the world today, with nearly half, or 49% saying they disagreed. A total of 41% also said they agreed that the Pope should not speak out on social and political issues with 36% disagreeing.

Nearly a third, or 31%, agreed that it was good to have a world leader such as the Pope with no political affiliation who can speak on moral issues, with 45% saying they disagreed.

The poll findings come after it was announced earlier this year that the Government costs of the trip - previously estimated at £8 million - could rise to between £10 million and £12 million.

In addition, the Catholic Church is expected to make a contribution of between £9 million and £10 million towards the costs.

The figures do not include an expected multimillion-pound bill for policing the visit.


From Belfast Telegraph