04/18/2005, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Almost one Russian in three favourably inclined towards the Catholic Church

The Foundation 'Public Opinion' (Obshczestvennoe mnenie) reveals that favourable opinion of Catholic Church rose from 16 to 30 per cent in five years.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Interfax) – About 30 per cent of Russians are favourably inclined to the Catholic Church compared to 16 per cent five years ago, whilst the number of those with a negative opinion of the Church dropped in the same period from 9 to 5 per cent, this according to a survey conducted by the Russian Foundation 'Public Opinion' (Obshczestvennoe mnenie), which interviewed on April 9 and 10 1500 respondents in 100 cities and towns in 44 of Russia's major administrative divisions.

The survey shows that 77 per cent of the population followed John Paul II's funeral on TV with a majority (51 per cent) agreeing that the way TV reported the events connected with the death and burial of the Pope were "just and necessary", only 14 per cent of respondents considered the reporting excessive.

A third of the Russians polled (33 per cent) reported being upset by the news of the Pope's death.  In this group, a greater proportion is made up of people living in big cities (47 per cent) and with higher levels of education (39 per cent).  However, nearly twice as many admitted hearing of the news without any particular emotion (63 per cent).

Nearly half of the Russian population (46 per cent), according to the poll, considered the death of Pope John Paul II to be a loss for the entire world, whilst only a third of those questioned (35 per cent) considered the loss significant for Catholics only.

Listing the merits of John Paul II at the request of the investigators, respondents most frequently mentioned his peacemaking activities and his numerous statements against violence and terrorism.  Many of those polled spoke with approval of his efforts to reconcile peoples and religious confessions.

Some of the respondents stressed the merits of the deceased Pope with reference to the Catholic Church only, but substantially more spoke of his service to all humanity.

Half of all those polled believed that the authority of the Catholic Church in the world under John Paul II increased. Only 12 per cent thought that the activity of the Pope was not at all reflected in the level of authority of the Roman Catholic Church, but no one participating in the poll thought that the authority of the Church had decreased.

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