Commenting on an Opinion Business Research poll in Scotland, which shows that the majority of people either have no strong opinions on the September 2010 papal visit or are broadly well-disposed to it, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia said:
"The latest polling evidence indicates that a majority of the public, in Scotland at least, have a pragmatic approach to the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
"There is unease in many quarters, not least committedly Christian ones, about some of his views. But most people are neither uncritically adulatory nor bitterly antagonistic.
"They want conversation not confrontation, and will judge the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on his words and actions, not on the ceaseless pro- and anti- propaganda that has surrounded preparations for the visit.
"Meanwhile, it is important that we hear from a diversity of voices within the Catholic community itself during the papal visit. A great number of ordinary Catholics wish to see genuine change and openness within the Church, based on historic Christian commitments. But their views and example can easily be lost amid what appears to be a war of political position between noisy advocates and angry critics of the current pontiff.
"Perhaps the biggest signal in the Opinion Business Research poll is that in an increasingly post-Christendom context, most people do not have strong views one way or the other, at least in terms of the way the issues surrounding the papal visit are presently being presented.
"This indicates that the competing passions of both ideological religionists and ideological secularists are missing the public mood to a significant extent."
More on the poll here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12968