This wouldn’t happen in the US! Wearing a T-shirt that the NSW police don’t like might get you arrested, in and around World Youth Day, an event organized by the Catholic Church that will see the Pope coming to Sydney etc. Unbelievable. SMH, ABC, and according to The Australian, “Strip searches okayed for WYD“. Julian Morrow from the Chaser tells it how it is. Maybe I’ve lived in the United States under the protection of the 1st amendment for too long, but the whole thing is outrageous. As Morrow hints, one wonders if the police will be intelligent in the way they choose to enforce/ignore these restrictions. — Simon Jackman

What about freedom of religion? Police powers normally reserved for major sporting events are being extended to cover World Youth Day in Australia later this month: ‘Australia row over police powers‘. I question the BBC’s choice of headline — is there really a row brewing over this? It seems like a fairly innocuous measure. Police will be able to intervene and fine anyone seeking to “annoy or inconvenience” attendees. The predictable regularity with which high-profile Roman Catholic events are targeted by nutties of all stripes render these forms of “protest” a kind of targeted persecution based on religious belief, so I support the measure as a reasonable state intervention to guarantee freedom of religion. — Platonic Shift

Iemma destroying Youth Day goodwill. A $5500 fine for annoying someone? I’ll continue to try and retain my goodwill for the individuals attending WYD2008. But I intend to make sure any visitors I chat to understand that not everyone may be happy about the sanitisation of Sydney that has taken place to make their stay free from “annoyance” — Catallaxy

Crossing the church/state divide. The Church in any secular society is always ill-advised if it needlessly antagonizes people in seeking privileged treatment from the authorities at the expense of others. — David Wall

Gay free zone. The Gay Catholic group Acceptance has been struggling to hold a forum on homosexuality during the week of Youth Day events and claim that the church’s position will isolate young gay Catholics. — Atheist Ramblings

On the flip side. It is easy for us northern hemisphere types to forget how far away Rome can feel in Oceania. This World Youth Day will be one of the smallest – but what it could mean to the Church on the flip side of the planet is beyond price. -– Intentional Disciples

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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