Appreciation from Anglican and Baptist leaders, from the Salvation Army and Reformed Churches. Secularization a shared problem. 60% of Catholics say that British society does not value their faith. For 70% of Catholics, Benedict XVI is good for the Church, despite the scandal of paedophile priests.

London (AsiaNews / Agencies) - All the Christian Churches in England are looking forward to the arrival of Benedict XVI in the United Kingdom and hope the Pope will encourage them to bear witness together in the face of an increasingly secularized society.

Contrary to what the majority of media preach, the scandals of sex abuse and paedophile priests are pushing Catholics to draw closer to the testimony of Benedict XVI and the Church.

The Protestant website Christian Today yesterday published a joint statement of welcome to Benedict XVI with the Church of England. They hope that his visit will be a source of encouragement for all the churches in the country. The declaration is signed by Rowan Williams, the Anglican primate of England, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Betty Matear of the Salvation Army.

Positive comments are also expressed by Rev. Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church that appreciates the work of Catholic bishops in the moral and spiritual sphere and hopes that the Pope's visit will give new "energy" and "inspiration" to the churches.

The Baptist Union, speaking through Rev. Jonathan Edwards says it hopes that the visit will bring greater understanding between Christians to make them "more effective in reaching all people with the love of God."

Mgr. Walton Powell, National Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy, said the Pope had a “message for this generation”.

The unanimous appreciation for the Pope's visit is explained by the fact that all the Churches of the United Kingdom face the same problem: a strong secularism, the marginalization of faith from public life, the ridicule of religion.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Brighton, says that he hopes the Pope’s visit will jolt Catholics to have confidence in “our right to stand up and say ‘I believe’, even though many people in our society will say ‘Keep quiet about that”.

A survey published by the BBC says that 60% of Catholics think that British society does not value their faith.

In the weeks leading up to the Pope's visit, many media fallen over themselves to re-float the (old) news stories of paedophile priests, the "closure" of the Catholic Church toward gays or women priests, pushing the idea that Benedict XVI will find many obstacles and may not even be welcome in Britain.

At least 52% of Catholics said that the sexual abuse scandal has shaken their confidence in the leadership of the Church, but at least 70% believe that the Pope's visit will benefit the Church in the United Kingdom.

This visit by Benedict XVI is the first by a pope after that of John Paul II in 1982. The tour begins September 16 and ends on 19 with the beatification of Cardinal. John Henry Newman.