Almost half of Russians consider the death of Pope John Paul II a loss for the entire world, poll finds
Interfax, 4/17/2005
Russia - Moscow. April 17. INTERFAX – The death of John Paul II, who was mourned by millions of people in all corners of the globe, did not leave Russians unmoved either.
A poll directed by the foundation “Societal Opinion” indicates that more than three-quarters of our fellow citizens (77%) watched the report from the Vatican concerning the Pontiff’s funeral and burial rites.

The majority of those polled (51%) were of the opinion that television reported on the events connected with the death and burial of the Pope “just as much as necessary”. Only 14% of respondents considered the reporting excessive.

A third of the Russians polled (33%) reported being upset by the news of the death of Pope John Paul II. In this group could be noted a greater proportion of residents of big cities (47%) and people with higher education (39%). However, nearly twice the number of those reporting such strong feelings admitted hearing of the news without any particular emotion (63%).

Nearly half of the Russian population (46%), according to the poll, consider the death of Pope John Paul II to be a loss for the entire world, whereas only a third of those questioned (35%) consider 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 terrrorism. Many of those polled spoke with approval of his efforts to reconcile peoples and confessions.

Frequently, the personal gifts and human worthiness of John Paul II were mentioned. Some of the respondents accented the merits of the deceased Pope with reference to the Catholic Church only, but substantially more spoke of his service to all mankind.

The opinion that during the twenty-six year pontificate of John Paul II the authority of the Catholic Church in the world increased was shared by 50% of our fellow citizens. Only 12% of those asked think that the activity of the Pope was not at all reflected in the the level of authority of the Roman Catholic Church. In this regard, no one participating in the poll thought that the authority of the Church had decreased.

As far as Russians are concerned, according to the Foundation’s data, 30% are favorably inclined to the Catholic Church, whereas only 16% felt that way five years ago. The number of those who have negative opinions about the Church decreased during the same period from 9 to 5%.

This poll was conducted from April 9-10 in 100 cities and towns throughout 44 of the major administrative divisions of Russia, with the participation of 1500 respondents.
© Interfax