PARIS - According to an Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche, 43% percent of French Catholics desire the departure of Pope Benedict XVI who has been widely criticized after his recent statements about condoms. If 54% want him to remain in the Vatican, 83% of the Catholics of France believe that the Church must change its discourse and its positions on abortion to reflect changes in society.
According to the survey which is to be published on Sunday, they also want the Church to change its discourse and its positions on homosexuality (69%), remarriage for the divorced (77%), and contraception (85%).
The survey was conducted from March 19 to 20 among a sample of 620 Catholics representative of the French population aged 18 and over, following the remarks of the pope.
From the plane which brought him to Africa last Tuesday, Benedict XVI asserted (estimé) that distribution of condoms was not a means to fight the AIDS pandemic, but on the contrary it aggravates the problem.
The first CSA poll for Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui published on Saturday showed that the image of the pope had deteriorated significantly in France, including among Catholics.
According to this study, 23% of the French say they have a good opinion of Benedict XVI while that figure was 53% in September. There are now 57% who have a poor opinion of him in contrast to 25% six months ago.
Among Catholics, 29% of those responding say they have a good image of the pope compared to 65% in September. 55% expressed a negative opinion compared to 19% six months ago.
The declining image of the pope is also confirmed by Catholics who practice regularly of which only 52% (compared to 86% in September) have a good opinion of him.
The CSA poll was conducted by telephone on March 18 and 19 from a sample of 1012 people representative of the French population.
France Wednesday expressed "its profound concern" ("sa très vive inquietude") in the wake the of the pope’s comments.
"These words are regressive and we are very concerned about these statements which call into question the spirit and the struggle of several decades" against AIDS, said Rama Yade, Secretary of State responsible for human rights.