03 July 2008

Human Rights, Freedom of Speech, and the Catholic Church

It would seem that not all Catholics are thrilled about the new annoyance laws put into place to "guarantee" that pilgrims are not annoyed or inconvenienced during the World Youth Day festivities.

Father Frank Brennan (pictured), who also happens to be a lawyer, feels that the new police powers are not only excessive but an interference of the civil liberties of people and in fact the new laws run contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Fr. Brennan cites the Pacem In Terris, the 1963 encyclical of Pope John, where it is clear that responsibility of all authorities was "to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person". Perhaps the NSW Government has interpreted this to mean the inviolable rights of the Catholic pilgrim.

However, the Catholic Church holds no such reservations. The Church has in fact indicated that it fully supports the laws and that it lobbied the government to ensure that the laws were enacted on the grounds that everyone wants WYD to be held in Sydney and that the people of Sydney, not only the pilgrims, were in favour of such measures because they want the event, which will be full of enthusiasm and joy, to run smoothly. I am not sure who the Catholic Church has been talking to on this.

Whether the laws are contrary to Catholic teachings is neither here nor there in that sense. I would have thought that pedophilia was contrary to Catholic teachings as well but it still happens. The laws are simply an affront to basic human rights that the majority of us take for granted but that the Catholic Church does not. In any event putting laws like this into place is like showing a red rag to a bull. Those groups that might not have been inclined to protest will now come out of the woodwork and protest on principle.

It is interesting that the organizers of the WYD and the Catholic Church want to have their cake and eat it too. An argument could be made that Jesus was the protester of his time. There were many in power who disagreed with his message and his teachings for which Jesus paid the ultimate price. The analogy drawn by Dr John Sweeney, the co-ordinator of research at the Edmund Rice Centre, says the following, "It would rather be like Jesus calling for a police escort on Palm Sunday. Obviously, he wouldn't and when Jesus went into Jerusalem people yelled out things the religious leaders in their time didn't like and they rebuked Jesus and he said he couldn't quieten his supporters."

This is a thought worth pondering. If Jesus really was about free speech and the right to preach his message then isn't it a little rich that the organizers want to curtail that very freedom for which Jesus died?

As you can see these increased police powers bother me.


oigal said...

I concur and also find it more than just a travesty that the average taxpayer (dare we say secular taxayer) once again picks up the bill for yet another fairie at the bottom garden cult. Not like the "Micks" are short a dollar, let them rent their own place and pay their own security in some vacant area...say 4-500Km west of the Alice.

Rob Baiton said...


Out past the Alice seems like a good idea. They could have built a little settlement and other facilities.

Then once they were finished with the little love fest they could have done the Catholic thing and donated them to the local community or the government...