Half of Switzerland unhappy with papal election

Left out in the cold: the new pope is said to be against women becoming priests Keystone Archive

The Swiss population is divided over how it feels about the new pope – half say they are happy with Joseph Ratzinger’s election, while the rest say the opposite.

This content was published on April 23, 2005 minutes

However, a large majority said they disagreed with his conservative views on celibacy, contraception and the ordination of women priests.

The Swiss television programme 10 vor 10, produced by swissinfo’s sister company SF DRS, commissioned the survey, which interviewed 1,012 Swiss people a day after Pope Benedict XVI was elected.

Nearly 30 per cent of respondents said they welcomed Ratzinger’s election; however, only eight per cent of this figure classified the result as "very good".

About 50 per cent said the decision to elect Ratzinger was "not good".

What emerged from the survey was that the Swiss are more or less united in disagreeing with Ratzinger's orthodox stance on controversial issues such as contraception.

The overwhelming majority of survey participants (86 per cent) said they wanted the ban on using contraception lifted. A small minority (seven per cent) said the prohibition should stay in place.

More than 80 per cent felt that the pope should permit priests to marry and more than three-quarters were in favour of allowing women priests to be ordained. Some 13 per cent supported the continuation of the celibacy rule.

Mixed voices

Earlier this week, the election of the new pontiff evoked mixed reactions from Christian communities in Switzerland.

The Swiss Bishops’ Conference said it hoped that Benedict XVI would strive towards Christian unity.

Vatican observer Hans-Peter Röthlin said he was convinced the new pontiff "would positively surprise many believers".

However, the optimism of Swiss Catholics was not shared by some of the country’s Protestants, who believe that Ratzinger is a stringent theologian who is unlikely to change.

The new pontiff was officially inaugurated at a Vatican ceremony on Sunday.


Key facts

Pope Benedict XVI was elected the new pope on April 19, 2005.
A day later, Demoscope interviewed 1,012 Swiss over the age of 15 about their reaction to the news.

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In brief

50 per cent of the Swiss population say they are happy with the election of Benedict XVI.

The other half disagree with the choice.

More than 80 per cent felt that the pope should permit priests to marry, with about the same in favour of the ordination of women priests.

13 per cent supported the continuation of the celibacy rule.

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