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Pope hasn't done enough to stop abuse, British say

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
  • Three out of four British adults say the pope has not done enough to punish the guilty
  • British Catholics are somewhat less critical, but two out of three say the church has not shown enough remorse
  • Only one in four British people think the pope should resign over the scandal
  • The pope said Thursday the church did not act fast enough to stop the abuse of children

London, England (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI has not done enough to punish priests who abuse children, and the Catholic Church has not shown enough remorse for the crimes, British people said overwhelmingly in a poll released as the pope arrived in the United Kingdom Thursday.

And British Catholics are nearly as critical of the pope and the church as the population as a whole, the ComRes poll for CNN found.

Three out of four British adults say the pope hasn't done enough to punish the guilty. Among British Catholics, two out of three agree.

Fewer than one in 20 British people say he has done enough.

But only one in four think Benedict should resign over the child-abuse allegations sweeping across the Catholic Church in Europe and North America. Half said he should not, and the other quarter did not know.

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Catholics were more supportive of the pope than the population as a whole, with three out of four saying he should not resign. But 14 percent of British Catholics said he should quit, and 12 percent were not sure.

Benedict spoke about the scandal while he flew to Scotland Thursday, accepting more blame on behalf of the Catholic Church than he usually does.

"The authority of the church was not vigilant enough, was not sufficiently fast and decisive in taking the necessary measures," he said in an interview while he flew to Scotland. Questions for the pope during his foreign flights have to be submitted in advance and he chooses which ones he will answer.

The pope said it was inexplicable to him how a priest who has promised at his ordination to act in the person of Christ, as a good shepherd, could "fall into this perversion," Catholic News Service reported.

His remarks came as he embarked on the first trip to the United Kingdom by a pope since 1982.

The visit has been controversial in Britain, with critics attacking everything from the cost to the British taxpayer of the visit (about 12 million British pounds, or nearly $19 million) to the pope's insistence that women cannot be priests.

British adults split equally on whether or not it was appropriate for Britain to host the pope on a state visit, with 36 percent saying it was appropriate and 37 percent saying it was not. The other 26 percent said they did not know.


More than two out of three British Catholics thought it was appropriate, with only 14 percent saying it was not. The other 18 percent did not know.

ComRes polled a representative sample of 2,028 British adults online from September 16-18 for CNN. The sample included 194 Catholics, or roughly 9.5 percent of the total. The United Kingdom is just under 9 percent Catholic, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

The margin of error on the poll is plus or minus two percentage points on the full sample of 2,028 adults, and six points on the Catholic sample.

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