World Youth Day condom protest against Pope
Condoms will be handed out to pilgrims en route to a papal Mass at Randwick Racecourse on World Youth Day as part of a protest against the Catholic Church's attitude to homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
A coalition of religious, atheist, gay and lesbian groups will stage the rally in Taylor Square from midday on Saturday July 19 before marching to the main event of the week-long World Youth Day celebrations.
Protest organisers are expecting thousands to gather on Oxford Street and Anzac Parade to rally against the church's attitude.
Rachel Evans, organiser of the NoToPope Coalition formed for the event, said she expected between 1000 and 5000 protesters to turn out and was confident there would be no violent confrontations with pilgrims.
"We will say to them, 'Take up the campaign within the Catholic Church to promote condoms.' We're not planning to get into any trouble. We don't want to condemn Catholic youth for being Catholics. We want to condemn the Pope for being homophobic and anti-condom."
Ms Evans, 33, who represents Community Action Against Homophobia and whose father was a Uniting Church minister, said the coalition would notify police of its route in the next couple of days but she feared the NSW Government "wants to be heavy-handed with protesters".
She said the Pope's teachings contributed to 67,000 women dying every year from backyard abortions and a suicide rate among gay youth that is seven times the average.
"He is clearly a bigot ... many in the Catholic Church are also raising these issues, condemning the Pope for his hateful ideas."
Karl Hand, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, "the home of inclusive Christianity", said he hoped there would be no confrontation between protesters, pilgrims and police, but he would not be surprised if it occurred.
He said the Catholic Church misrepresented Christianity and was "extremely uncompassionate towards people who need condoms, abortions, recognition of their relationship - and it's just not being provided by this massive worldwide church that is supposed to be a spiritual leader of people".
Other groups in the NoToPope Coalition are the Socialist Alliance, Resistance, Atheists Sydney and the Raelians, a religious sect that has claimed to have cloned the world's first human being.
Raelian members Eden Bates and Gerry Texeira said it was unfair that their leader, Claude Vorilhon, known as Rael, was denied a visa upon application while the Pope was being feted by Australian governments.
"In the Raelian movement we are very, very clear that all humanity has been designed and part of that design is to have diversity," Ms Bates said.