Catholics Hit Back at Criticism of World Youth Day

By Michelle Cazzulino
Daily Telegraph
July 3, 2008,22049,23959172-5001021,00.html

THEY've been accused of getting special treatment from the Government and police, of taking over Sydney's premier race track and of shutting down the CBD for a week.

Now the nation's Catholics have hit back and are demanding that anti-church whingers get off their backs.

Sydney mother-of-one Kirrily Aguilera, 25, who will billet six World Youth Day pilgrims, also said that protesters - if there were any - should respect the fact that not everyone agreed with their views.

Give peace a chance ... Kirrily Aguiiera believes people are over-reacting to World Youth Day.
Photo by Ross Schultz

"I believe people should have the right to express their opinions, good or bad, about the Catholic church - if people want to wear a T-shirt with (an anti-Pope slogan), they should be able to do it but there's a time and a place for it," she said.

"I don't think it would be appropriate for protesters to come into Randwick Racecourse and start handing out condoms during Mass, for example.

"The laws are important to allow Catholics to express their faith and participate in the liturgy in a dignified manner."

Carla Mascarenhas said she was disappointed that the question of protesters' rights had been beaten up by some media to overshadow the festival.

"The amount of emphasis that's been placed on it is just ridiculous - out of all the things you talk about in relation to World Youth Day, you're talking about police powers and unprecedented security - is that really the issue?" she said.

"I think that even people who don't even like the Catholic church will be excited.

"You'll see all these pilgrims who can barely speak English in your country and there's an exciting feel to it. It's not about preaching the gospel - it's more about bringing people together."

All you need to know: World Youth Day

Jenny Spinks, who had already attended a World Youth Day event with her 10-year-old daughter, said she hoped others would be inspired by the occasion.

"We're all fired up for it - we think it's great. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said.

Less than a fortnight before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Australia for the first time, festival, organisers yesterday denied they had asked that NSW Police be given additional powers for the five-day event.

World Youth Day Minister Kristina Keneally said reports that authorities wanted protesters to submit their slogans and placard messages for official approval were nonsense.

She also denied new regulations giving police the power to issue $5500 fines to people deemed to be "causing annoyance" were excessive.


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