Protester Attacked by Pilgrims

By Anthony Macdonald
Special Broadcasting Service
July 18, 2008

A protester from Queensland was set upon by a group of pilgrims when she held up a sign as the Pope's convoy passed Dawes Point.

A woman protests at Darling Harbour before having the sign forcibly removed by pilgrims.

The woman, Mary Adams, waited hours for the Pontiff to pass in the boat-a-cade, before holding up her handmade sign that said 'Ratzinger condones paedophilia'.

Adams was yelled at by a group of pilgrims as soon as she held up the sign, and was forced to flee the area as the group continued to yell while trying to rip the sign out of her hands and shove her.

"I've worked on a sexual abuse hotline and I've seen suicides because of the cover-ups Ratzinger has been involved in," Adams said after fleeing the local area.

"He [Ratizinger] is responsible for this cover up."

A nearby police officer had to step in to separate the pilgrims from Adams, and allow her to get away.

"If there was a God now, he would be crying," she said.

"If it happened to them [the pilgrims] it would be a different issue. They would understand where I am coming from."

The pilgrims' leader a middle-aged man from Lismore in NSW who did not want to be named - said Adams had no right to show her sign in front of the children.

"Get that sign down in front of these kids," he yelled, before attacking Adams.

Adams said she had done nothing wrong and was simply exercising her democratic right to protest.

As 150 000 thousand pilgrim headed to Barangaroo for the Pope's first address, thousands more joined Sydneysiders along the Harbour foreshore to catch a glimpse of the Church leader.

Catholics and non-Catholics gathered for the event. The Opera House precinct was packed to capacity, while the western side of Circular Quay and Dawes Point were also crowded.

Security was high throughout the city with literally buses of policemen, as well as water police, divers, helicopters and lifesavers.

Married couple Elizabeth and John Ritson travelled from Campbelltown to see the Pope, and they said they were typical of many other NSW residents who had come into the Sydney for the day.

"We wanted to see what it was all about," John Ritson said.

"We are not Catholics, but this is a hugely influential and well respected man who holds great influence and position in our society."

After a long wait, the crowd was not disappointed, as the boat carrying the Pope turned and did a lap of Circular Quay.

Thousands of people waved vigorously and took photos of Pope Benedict's boat, while the Pontiff appeared comfortable onboard the Captain Cook Cruises' ship.

The Church leader sailed under the Harbour Bridge and in to a rock-star welcome at Barangaroo.


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