…and I hope my Catholic friends understand when I say that’s a bloody good thing! The article comes from here:
Sydney — A Sydney court Tuesday declared unconstitutional harsh police powers brought in for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Australia and a gathering of young Catholics, much to the joy of an anti-pope protest group.
The new laws would have allowed arrests for ‘causing annoyance or inconvenience’ to the young pilgrims, 250,000 of whom came to Sydney to greet the pontiff.
The laws, more far-reaching than those passed for last year’s visit of US President George W Bush, threatened to put protestors on the streets who otherwise would have stayed at home.
It was not only the NoToPope Coalition that celebrated the court victory. Catholic lawyer and priest Father Frank Brennan said the government had gone too far because ‘the rights of free speech and assembly should not be curtailed only because visiting pilgrims might be annoyed or inconvenienced in public places.’
The outbreak of public anger against the new rules had been so intense that some warned of pitched battles in the streets.
Cameron Murphy, president of the Council of Civil Liberties, said that under the rules a police officer might issue a fine after deciding that someone’s T-shirt slogan was offensive.
‘That sort of thing is likely to escalate any problems that occur rather than prevent them,’ he warned.
The pope arrived Sunday and will make his grand entrance to the World Youth Day celebrations on Thursday.
World Youth Day chief executive Danny Casey turned out to be prescient when he predicted protestors would be swamped by joyous youngsters and that peace would prevail.
‘Everyone will be swept away with this wonderful wave of joy and enthusiasm,’ he said.
And so it came to pass: the streets have been free of protestors and the parks chock-a-block with beaming pilgrims from 170 countries.
The pope leaves Monday after hosting the highlight of the celebrations: a Sunday morning mass at a city racecourse that could be attended by up to 500,000 worshippers, many of whom are to spend the the night before sleeping under the stars.