Church hopes joy of pilgrims will win over ‘cranky’ WYD protesters

Sydney, Australia, Jul 15, 2008 / 06:13 pm (CNA) .- A Sydney court has overturned a law that would prevent protesters from “annoying” pilgrims at World Youth Day, ruling that it limited free speech. Bishop Anthony Fischer, who is in charge of facilitating the youth event, has suggested the overruling of the law would reduce the interest of those who were “cranky” with World Youth Day, saying such protestors will be overcome by the joy of pilgrims.

The New South Wales law had threatened fines of up to $5,500 against anyone causing “annoyance” to pilgrims at the massive Catholic event.

Activists said they plan to hold a rally on Saturday to demonstrate against the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and contraception. They say they will wear “provocative” T-shirts and hand out condoms.

Immediately following the decision Rachel Evans, one of the two protesters from the “No to Pope” group who took the case to court, started handing out condoms to pilgrims while wearing a shirt that read “The Pope is wrong, put a condom on,” according to the Times Online.

The Catholic Church had no comment on the decision and the New South Wales government said it would not appeal.

World Youth Day Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher suggested that the ruling would reduce interest in the weekend protest “because they won’t be protesting against the laws any more.”

“Even people who have been a bit cranky with World Youth Day… will be swept along by the beauty and joy of these young people and they’ll just want to be part of that,” Bishop Fisher said.