Populus on the Papal Visit

The opinion pollsters continue to pick up business from the now imminent papal visit to Scotland and England. Following the ComRes/BBC and YouGov/ITV surveys carried out among Catholics, reported by BRIN on Sunday and Monday, today brings a study of all British adults conducted by Populus for The Times.

Fieldwork was on 10-12 September, by telephone among a sample of 761 Britons aged 18 and over. The results are summarized in an article (with accompanying graphic) by Sam Coates and Ruth Gledhill in today’s print edition of The Times. The online version can only be accessed by subscribers. Detailed computer tabulations are not yet available on the Populus website.*

Respondents were asked to choose one of four statements which best expressed their attitude to the papal visit, with the following outcome:

  1. The Pope is the respected leader of one of the world’s most important religious faiths. I am positively in favour of his visit and we should not quibble about the inevitable costs – 14% (highest among professionals)
  2. I don’t feel strongly either way about the Pope’s visit to Britain or the fact that it will inevitably incur some costs – 16%
  3. I don’t feel strongly either way about the Pope’s visit to Britain, but we should not be spending a penny of taxpayers’ money on it – 57% (two-thirds among women)
  4. Leaving aside all issue of the cost of his visit, I am opposed to the Pope coming to Britain because of his track record and the views he espouses – 11% (15% of men)

Majorities of the British public wanted the Pope to drop his opposition to contraception (79%), abortion (73%), women priests (72%), practising homosexuality (70%) and gay adoptions (59%). 72% found the Catholic Church intolerant and judgemental.

Opinion was divided on whether the Catholic Church was a force for good (47%) or ill (33%, and highest among Labour voters). But, at 83%, it was emphatic in condemning the Church for being dishonest in dealing with the child abuse scandals.

Two key themes emerge from this Populus survey: a) limited public interest in the papal visit coupled with concerns about its cost; and b) widespread criticism of several of the Church’s traditional teachings and of its handling of sexual abuse by priests.

These find echoes in other recent papal visit-related polls, for which see:






*POSTSCRIPT [17 September] Detailed computer tabulations for the Populus poll are now available at:


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

This entry was posted in Survey news and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Populus on the Papal Visit

  1. Pingback: Visite du Pape au Royaume-Uni « SOCIOlogie des RELigions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.