A survey on the religious faith of 504 people living in Rome has found that 77 per cent of those questioned were Roman Catholic, 12.3 per cent were atheist or did not belong to any religious group, 8.3 per cent believed in religion but did not belong to any specific group and 2.4 per cent belonged to another faith.

The telephone survey was conducted by Fondazione Roma Europea, a foundation that operates politically and culturally to promote Rome within Europe

The number of Roman Catholics in the survey who attended mass once a week was 23 per cent of the total, the majority of whom were over 55 years of age. 16 per cent attended a service once a month and 20 per cent never went to church, the majority of these being between 18 and 35 years old.

Of those questioned 55 per cent believed that paradise was a place of eternal happiness accessable to the just, 24.5 per cent did not believe in paradise at all and 20.5 per cent didn't know or were not interested in paradise at all.

When told that some people maintain that one religion is much like another, 17.3 per cent agreed, 31 per cent were moderately in agreement, 46.5 per cent disagreed and 5.2 per cent did not know.

Finally, 64.1 per cent of those questioned believed the world would be a worse place if there were no religions and a better place according to 11.1 per cent. According to 15.3 per cent of those questioned things would remain the same with or without religion and 9.5 per cent did not have an opinion.