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How Popular Was the Pope's Visit?
I ask this because time and time again the Catholic church and the BBC refer to Ratzi's visit as 'highly successful' and 'very popular.'

I will [not very happily] accept this judgement if they would give me something to back it up. There were opinion polls and surveys before the visit - have there been any public attitude surveys since? Well, if there have, they have not been publicised, which makes me extremely suspicious.

Were the venues packed out? No. There were precisely the numbers expected at the venues (often children bussed in from Catholic schools) and if you drive down Oxford Street or Princes Street there will be a lot of people who stop and look.

What about the viewing figures? Again, it is impossible for a general member of the public like me to find out because none of the Outside Broadcasts made it into the top 30 on the BBC. I've checked. Certainly less than 3 million.

What I do know is that the BBC received a great many complaints about the amount of coverage, that Have Your Say (often a right wing haunt) was full of people complaining about the cost even after the Pope had left, and that Points of View had several threads complains about the amount of coverage - threads that ran on for thirty pages, yet were never addressed by either Points of View or Feedback. As might be expected, CiF on the Guardian website was also full of complaints.

Popular? Successful? Come on, gimme some evidence... any evidence...
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Yes, absolutely! You have a good point, and you have evidence to support it.

I have a similar but more impressionistic reaction to the press coverage of the forthcoming royal wedding (it's going to cheer the nation up, apparently) and the location of the World Cup football (we're heartbroken).

Possibly they have evidence for this, but the reaction I hear is we really don't care (but we'd prefer not to foot the bill) and we are profoundly relieved (respectively). And this isn't just from friends who might be expected to share attitudes.

So, yes, seconding that demand for ecidence!

I'm glad other people are getting a day off for the Royal Wedding, but other than that I'm just relieved that William hasn't followed his father's example and married a naive virgin to get an heir while keeping his bit on the side.

As for the World Cup - well, let me explain what was said in this household when we heard London had won the Olympic bid.

-- Damn I was hoping for France.
-- At least we're not in Greater London and don't have to foot the bill.
-- And, with any luck we'll both be retired and have sold the house by 2012. (Still hoping.)

Deeply relieved about the World Cup too.

Well he wasn't shot so that counts as highly successful.

But yes, they dinnarv bang on about it. At least some of the viewing figures muct have been forced viewing because you couldn't get away from it if you tried.

One day they cancelled daytime quiz Pointless for the pope-athon. Oddly enough, Pointless is regularly in the BBC2 top thirty and, indeed, was that week.

You don't get that level of coverage of a visit from any other head of state. I agree there has to be some coverage because it's Important, but it's not like we'd won the Ashes or the World Cup. It's not That Important.

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Not at all. I am simply asking that the BBC and the Catholic church produce some evidence that a visit that they themselves admitted was unpopular before Ratzi's arrival made people change their minds about it. There were several polls before the visit which said the Great British Public were almost totally indifferent to the visit (overwhelmingly - it was over 80%) but did not want to pay anything for said visit and were very annoyed about having to cough up for the security (originally estimated to be £10 million but later upped to about £20 million.)

I did know exactly how many people were at the venues - though I've forgotten now - and I know they had problems selling enough tickets and ended up practically forcing church-going Catholics to attend. This was reported in the Catholic Herald. I know they bussed in a load of schoolkids.

If the Catholic population of the UK is 3 million, as they claim, then less than 10% attended the rallies and the TV broadcasts were not as popular as the everyday daytime programmes they replaced.

Incidentally, it is now confirmed from Germany that Ratzinger covered up child abuse while he was in charge there, and it has just been revealed from Wikileaks that he refused to let the Irish investigating child abuse question Priests and was incandescent when they came to the Vatican city and questioned them anyway.

"The Catholic Church has done some very nasty things, and continues to have some attitudes which even many Catholics know are misconceived, so the office comes with a great deal of historical baggage, but very few people (for example) blame Queen Elizabeth for the murder of the Princes in the Tower, or the massacre at Culloden."

Who's blaming them for historical offences? Condom use, especially in Africa, endemic child rape... there's enough shit attached to the current Catholic Church to bury any similar sized secular company.

Don't forget excommunicating people who perform necessary abortions, and taking Holocaust deniers back into the fold, while promulgating the lie that Hitler was a 'secularist' - someone who pretends to be a historian knows better, and someone who was in the Hitler Youth and manned an anti-aircraft gun for the Axis powers, and for whose "I was forced to do it and ran away as soon as possible" excuse we have no evidence except the word of, as proved above, a liar.

Indeed. If the evils of the Catholic Church were historical I would agree that it would be unfair to hold the current administration accountable but the existence of what is in effect a multinational company that does not recognise an obligation to secular or even a responsibility to clean its own house..? I've got no tolerance whatsoever.

My parents live very close to Cofton Park, where the beatification of Cardinal Newman took place. They report the stadium area to have been less than half full. For this they put up with three weeks of local disruptions, three Saturdays when the park was closed to twenty local league football teams (adults and children) - trivial, perhaps, but after all, the park is supposed to be a public amenity and nobody asked locals which they'd rather the park was used for...

Hitler a secularist? Yeah, yeah, and Darwin had a death bed conversion, and Einstein was a devout Christian and all the other canards that get trotted out by people who spend their lives with their brains turned off, never bothering to, you know, actually *check something out*. Idiots (and sometimes deliberate liars which is what I'd suspect in Ratzi's case).

That Sunday I was at Alcester where Flash was attending a judge's seminar. We (the organisers, the attendees, the people bringing cats) had all been very worried about possible traffic, but the only people even mildly affected - and that by the police - were the people coming down the M5 from Blackpool. There was also something on at Donnington Park, and that caused much more trouble to us, though it wasn't that bad.

I have seen a largish number of anecdotal accounts of the sparsity of the 'crowds' in Edinburgh, in particular, but I was trying to stick to evidence that cannot be accused of personal bias. Of course, that someone is upset is not evidence of anything....

As is said below, the excommunication of a girl for trying to abort her pregnancy after being raped, while giving no such punishment to the father who performed the rape, occurred during this current pope's watch. Recent wikileaks produced absolutely no surprise in revealing that the Vatican was unwilling to cooperate with the recent enquiries into child abuse in Ireland, also under this current pope's watch. The reference to homosexuality as "real moral evil" and the criticism of the UKs equality laws are also very much the responsibility of this current pope.

I'm not sure what old "baggage" you are referring to. There's a reason why this current Pope is taking a greater level of criticism than his predecessor.

A lack of interest is one of the reasons why the Vatican is struggling to pay us back for the visit. They claim they were expecting more funding from rich supporters of the Church and I think it's fair to presume that ticket sales haven't contributed as much as was hoped (not least since there were reports prior to the visit that they were having trouble selling tickets).

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