Sydney put on a great welcome for World Youth Day and the City of Sydney did its bit to facilitate a lot of the practical requirements so that the event ran smoothly.
However, the State & Federal government funding of $160m and almost $3m from the City of Sydney meant that the Catholic Church, a very wealthy organization, was given favoured treatment. I do not agree that public funding on this scale should be provided to a private, non-inclusive, religious organisation. The Greens and several other groups in our diverse Sydney community who also took umbrage over some of what the Pope and the Catholic Church stand for or don’t stand for and a number of our members participated in the “No to Pope” peaceful protest.
For a while it looked as though annoying the pilgrims was to be deemed a crime but sanity prevailed and cheeky T-shirts and a protest march were given the go-ahead.
Greens member, Will Paauwe, took part in a rally and march from Taylor Square on the Saturday and filed this report on the event.
Hi, my name is William and I’m a gay Green and happy Green! I have been a coordinator with the Mardi Gras Parade for many years, Committee Member of Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby for a time and member of LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Intersex) Committee NSW Greens, and worked with CAAH (Coalition Action Against Homophobia). One thing I have learnt through my time with various organisations, we can’t move mountains from our arm chairs! We need to get up onto the streets occasionally, ask a few like minded friends to shout “its not right, it has to change, its unjust”! Drop the remote control and join in.
I attended one such protest during Catholic World Youth Day events, not entirely sure what 500,000 pilgrims would look like or be like! It was some time before we were even allowed to see a pilgrim! Pilgrims were carefully corralled behind barricades & police. I spent so much time building an impression of what these people would look like in my mind, they must be scary, horrid, ugly.
The first wave of pilgrims came by, my first impressions were quite underwhelming, they looked much like us, they were smiling and very proud of their day marching up the street. As proud as we were marching for 30 years up Oxford street protesting discriminatory laws and heavy handed police action. I realised that pilgrims were indeed followers and they followed a Pope who would tell them things that are wrong. There was a very big difference, there were 200,000 pilgrims marching on our hallowed ground, where for the 30th Mardi Gras parade only 10,000 participants marched.
The number of pilgrims was phenomenal! World Youth Day to me was a bunch of people invading my city, costing my city/state 10s of millions of dollars, blocking streets, celebrating at great cost to me and the city. I think Rachel Evans, convenor of No To Pope Coalition did a fantastic job of organising a major protest telling the 100s of 1000s of people invading my city, that we don’t agree with state branded religion, we don’t agree with City of Sydney & NSW Govt inviting a Pope that thinks of me as a “intrinsic moral evil”! Telling an entire population of a developing nation suffering under massive HIV/Aids infection its a sin to wear a condom to me is the most ridiculous idiotic nonsense ever thought of in modern times and “The Pope Is Wrong, Put a Condom On”, cried the crowd on Saturday!
The pope of 1000 years ago seems to have a lot of influence over our modern society? It seems the current pope managed to influence $160 million dollars out of our city/state/nation! He is doing well! I could cry at the number of homeless people $160,000,000 (looks better with the zeros) could have fed. Just to put the $160million into perspective, Oz Harvest (4) an Australian Charity that delivers meals to homeless, delivered 903,032 meals in 2007 (Annual Report page 2), they noted their income as as $784, 880 ($0.7million Annual Report Page 2). If the $160 million (sorry $160,000,000) was given to Oz Harvest they could have provided 139,065,725 (139 million) meals to homeless and the less fortunate, that equals 7 meals for every Australian (estimate 20million), staggering amount of money!
More to why I went along to the protest. Pope Benedict has said, “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” (Quote from SBS News). I don’t think anyone in Sydney has come up to me and said to me I am a “moral evil”. They may have called me a few other things. It is such a horrible thing for young gay, lesbian, bi, trans people to hear from someone who is a spiritual ruler. I don’t remember Pope John Paul saying such horrid things when he was alive. I know millions of us are not intrinsically evil, I do know that allowing our African brothers & sisters to die unnecessarily in the world, and you can quote me, is completely evil and it has to stop.
THE POPE IS WRONG - PUT A CONDOM ON!