A survey has suggested that most British Catholics disagree with the Pope’s teachings on homosexuality, abortion and contraception.
According to an online YouGov poll of 1,636 Catholics for ITV’s Tonight programme, only 11 per cent believed gay sex was morally wrong, while 41 per cent said that both straight and gay relationships should be celebrated.
A third (30 per cent) said abortion should always be permitted, while 44 per cent said it should be allowed in certain circumstances. Just 11 per cent said it should only be allowed to save the mother’s life and six per cent said it should never be allowed.
Seventy-one per cent thought contraception should be used more often to prevent pregnancy and STDs, while four per cent agreed with the church that it is wrong.
Most (65 per cent) thought priests should be allowed to marry, while 27 per cent said they should remain celibate.
Although most respondents (87 per cent) thought the reputation of the Catholic Church had been permanently damaged by the child sex abuse scandals, they did not believe the Pope should stand down.
Only 14 per cent said he should stand down, compared to 72 per cent who said he should remain in his position.
The Pope arrives in Britain for a four-day visit on Thursday. He is expected to criticise equality legislation for curbing religious freedom.
According to the Daily Mail, senior Catholic sources said the Pontiff will not discuss politics directly but will speak about freedom of conscience.
The message is expected to be taken as a criticism of recent cases where Christian registrars have failed to convince the law of their right to reject gay couples.
Last week, a poll suggested that the majority of Britons are apathetic to the Pope’s visit but do not want the taxpayer to have to foot the bill for part of the trip.