Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Making Fun of the Pope Not Illegal in Australia

Since I have some time on my hands before my flight this morning, I figured I'd write about this story I just found from The National Post.

A federal court in Sydney ruled yesterday that laws enacted to prevent protesters from "annoying" Catholic protesters were unconstitutional. The laws were put in place to prevent protesters demonstrating against Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Sydney to celebrate World Youth Day, which is the Catholic church's largest youth festival aimed at attracting more young people to Catholicism.

"Under the laws, protesters could be arrested or fined A$5,500 (US$5,340) for wearing anti-Catholic T-shirts or for handing out condoms in protest at church doctrine on sex and marriage. Civil liberties leaders said the laws stifled freedom of speech and were open to abuse by police who were mounting an Olympic-style security operation for the papal visit."

"'We now have a lot more confidence to take to the streets to condemn Pope Benedict's policies against condom use, against contraception, against homosexuality,' Rachel Evans from the 'No Pope' group which challenged the laws."

"Evans said 'No Pope' protesters welcomed young Catholics in Sydney, but would hand them coathangers to protest against backyard abortions, condoms to promote safe sex, and stickers with gay themes to promote the rights of homosexuals."

It's a little disheartening to find out that Australia would make such protests illegal in the first place, especially when the statistics about Catholicism in Australia given by the article are considered:

"In Australia, home to the world's biggest gay and lesbian mardi gras and where abortion and stem cell research is legal, the Catholic church's teachings often fall on deaf ears. Some 5 million Australians describe themselves as Catholic, but less than one million attend Sunday mass and the number may have dropped to about 100,000 in the past 5 years."

Why even try to make something illegal about which so many people are obviously going to be angry? But, all's well that ends well I suppose. The above statistics are obviously the reason for the pope's visit to Sydney in the first place.

In a laughable attempt to make Catholicism "cool," the pope sent text messages to thousands of Catholic pilgrims in Sydney on Tuesday, urging them to renew their faith. The text message read:

"Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."

Really, Pope Benny? I don't think abbreviating "you" to "u" in classic text message short hand is going to do Catholicism as a whole any good. If anything, it makes the pope look like the elderly uncle trying desperately to convince his nieces and nephews of his street cred. I mean come on, he didn't even do it on ever instance of "you." The least he could have done was be consistent. Fortunately, the Holy Father avoided further embarrassment by referring to Jesus as "JC," although I guarantee you that idea was thrown around the Vatican. It probably seemed too "gangsta" for the Catholic church. The last thing they want would be for Jesus to be associated with bitches and hoes; other than Mary Magdalene that is.

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1 comment:

Crete said...

Good post.