A wide-ranging poll of Roman Catholics in the US has found that two thirds of them feel the Church is out of touch with today’s world.

Just two years ago, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope, 52% of American Catholics held that view: now the figure is 62%.

The figures come ahead of a Papal visit to the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI, who has been outspoken in his opposition to equal rights for LGBT people, will visit Washington and New York from today to 20th April and will meet President Bush and address the United Nations.

It is Benedict’s first official visit to the US. His predecessor John Paul II visited seven times.

The ABC News poll found that 60% of Roman Catholic Americans disagree with the ban on priests getting married, and the same number back women priests.

29% of the adults polled were raised Catholic but only 22% say they kept their faith.

Overall 88% of the respondents were raised as Christians, with 82% self-identifying as such now.

A group that works for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans in the Roman Catholic church is planning a series of protests against Pope Benedict during his visit.

The Rainbow Sash Movement said it is calling on “Catholics of good will” to take the Papal visit as an opportunity to shower the Pope mobile with ashes instead of confetti.

“Ashes are an ancient and appropriate greeting for a sinner who has caused the Church so much division and pain,” RSM said in a statement.

“We will also be greeting him with whistles; these were used by the Polish People to show shame for the violation of human rights by the Communist Government prior to the end of the cold war.

“This will be a loud call for reform, that the Pope will be unable to turn a deaf ear to.”

RSM is calling for reform across a range of issues, from marriage for priests to stronger action against bishops who protected child-abusing clergy.

“We will not enter any Churches but we will bring ashes to reign down on the Popes motorcade, and call on individuals to blow whistles at any public papal events such as outside of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ground Zero, St. Joseph’s Seminary, and Yankee Stadium as a sign of our disgust over the way the clergy abuse scandal has been handled under his leadership,” the group said in a statement.