By Simon Caldwell and Luke Coppen
NEARLY NINE out of ten British Catholics want the Church to speak out more strongly in favour of marriage and the family, a survey has revealed.
Carried out by NOP on behalf of the Catholic Media Trust of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, the survey also showed there was huge grass roots support for Church teaching on abortion.
But it concluded that the Church needed to ensure any scandals were dealt with promptly and effectively. It added: "The Church needs to do more to communicate that celibacy is a freely chosen positive commitment especially at times when it is (unfairly) linked with abuse."
Topping the issues concerning the 5,000 Catholics interviewed were falling numbers, abortion, priestly celibacy, birth control, divorce and remarriage, falling vocations, the ordination of women, Christian unity and evangelisation.
The survey also showed that a quarter of the nation's 1.1million Catholics attend Mass every week and a further 13 per cent attended at least once a month. Most Catholics read The Daily Mail, The limes or The Daily Telegraph and took a slightly dim view of Catholic publications.
A second survey, commissioned by The Daily Telegraph, revealed widespread ignorance among Christians about the contents of their faith. The special Gallup poll found that a third of Britain's Christians cannot name a single Gospel; more than half do not believe that Christ will return to earth in the Second Coming and a third doubt or do not believe in Christ's Virgin birth and his resurrection from the dead. An astonishing 15 per cent said they did not believe in God.
Only one in three selfconfessed Christians go to church on Sunday, while over half admit they go to church "very seldom" or "only for christenings, weddings and funerals".
Just over half of the respondents believed that there was still a widespread respect for clergy, while half said they would turn to a priest in time of personal crisis.