LONDON (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled this month (Sept. 16-19) to pay the first papal visit to Britain in 28 years, but the host nation seems less than enthusiastic about it, according to a pair of public opinion polls.
One survey, by the Ipsos MORI pollsters for the Roman Catholic weekly magazine The Tablet, indicated two-thirds of British Christians interviewed neither support nor oppose the pope’s trip.

The second, conducted by the Theos public theology research organization, found one-third of those questioned do not think Benedict’s visit will do Britain any good.

The Theos poll added that 77 percent resent that British taxpayers will fund the costs of the trip, estimated to reach about $18 million.

Benedict is scheduled to land in Britain on September 16, the first papal visit to this country since John Paul II’s in 1982. One highlight of his trip is a beatification Mass for the British-born Cardinal John Henry Newman, in Birmingham, England, on September 19.

In its current (September 4) issue, The Tablet magazine said the British public “seems still to awaken to his state visit … (and had) still to be convinced of the importance” of the occasion.

“It would appear,” The Tablet reported, that “the Church has also been unable to excite the vast majority of the British people about the opportunities to see the pope in person.”

For papal services set for London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow, Scotland, hundreds of tickets had not been taken up with barely more than a week to go before Benedict arrives.

The Ipsos MORI organization interviewed 996 adult Christians cross Britain, while the Theos survey was conducted online and involved interviewing 2,005 adults.

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