Debate: Are we experiencing a ‘Benedict bounce’?

Pope Benedict's visit has sparked a huge surge of interest in the Church (Photo: PA)

Somewhere around half a million people saw the Pope in his four-day visit, with millions more watching the heavy-duty TV coverage; the commentariat were in full flow, in favour and against every half-sentence the Pope uttered.

Images of the Pontiff in his specially commissioned tartan, kissing babies, and waving to huge crowds were in abundance, and voices of protest struggled to gain the massive public interest they had hoped for.

And on Sunday, Cardinal Keith O’Brien mentioned the idea of a “Benedict Bounce“, a resurgence in public interest in Catholicism and a renewed energy in the Church in Britain. The Telegraph reported a rise in interest, with the Catholic Enquiries Office inundated with phone calls asking for more information about the Church.

Some have likened this rise of interest to a similar surge following the visit of Pope John Paul II to Britain 28 years ago.

But will it last? Or will it, like previous spikes in interest, drop off as the mass media spotlight drifts away from the Church?