Protestors and organisers prepare for Pope’s arrival

By staff

A small industry of protestors and event organisers are making last-minute preparations ahead of the Pope’s arrival on Thursday.

Thousands of people are expected to protest against the visit next Saturday, in an event organised by the group Protest the Pope.

Most of those gearing up to protest the visit are upset over child abuse on the Catholic Church.

A recent survey showed 77% of people disagreed with the use of taxpayer money to fund the visit, which treats the Pope as the head of state of the Vatican rather than as a religious figure.

Seventy-nine per cent said they had “no personal interest” in the pontifical trip.

The Vatican tends to view Britain as a secularist stronghold, but Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the country have been markedly warmer in recent weeks as he gears up for the visit.

Meanwhile, a BBC survey showed growing discontent with Catholic doctrine among Catholics themselves in the lead-up to the visit.

Half of the Catholics who responded to the questionnaire said priests should no longer have to be celibate. Two-thirds thought women should have more influence.

Fifty-two per cent of the 500 Catholics surveyed said the child abuse scandal had shaken their faith in the leadership of the church. But 70% thought the visit would help the church in the UK.