It seems that won't be the case during the pope's visit to Australia in August. In order to sully the sanctity of the event for the sake of their platform, a group called the NoToPope Coalition will be distributing condoms to the young Catholic pilgrims as they head to an evening prayer vigil with the pope. Spokesperson Rachel Evans has said that members of coalition will ask the Catholic youth to, "Take up the campaign within the Catholic church to allow the Catholic church to promote condoms."
At a press conference this week, Evans said that the group will also be protesting the Church's position on abortion and homosexuality. She expressed a belief that Pope Benedict XVI is a bigot with regard to homosexuals and that his opposition to people using prophylactics condemns millions to death from AIDS.
Karl Hand, pastor of Sydney's Metropolitan Community Church which is part of the Coalition, says of his position with relation to that of the Church, "I'm compassionate towards people who need condoms, who need abortions, who need all sorts of recognition of their relationship and it's just not being provided by this massive worldwide church. A lot of the views being taken up by the pope are anti-humanity in general, so that's upsetting."
When I first read that quote of Pastor Hand I imagined him to be a hand wringing short sighted moral relativist who, although he may very well want what is best for God's people, has been sucked into society's quick fix, bandage on a broken arm, mentality. Then I did an Internet search of the man. Now I'm wondering if he might just be a petulant child standing with his fists on his hips, bottom lip in a severe pout, as he stomps his foot because a parent has told him that something he wishes to do is wrong. Hrmphhh - he'll show the world!
Prior to this condom crusade, Pastor Hand, via his blog, explored another unjust situation - the lack of gay bars in his town. Evidently, his favorite hang out was being converted to a restaurant and the other gay bar in town was being renovated. So, what's a boy to do? Raise that rainbow flag and his voice be heard -
"I suddenly realised that there’s more to life than just my needs – a whole section of the community in Newtown are suddenly without a home. It just so happened this all took place while I was giving some talks at church about the idea of a “spiritual home,” and that got me thinking too. As a pastor in Metropolitan Community Church – a largely gay and lesbian denomination, I am committed to queer spirituality. I believe that queer people are not only equal in rights, and in worth to society, and equal in beauty – I also believe we are equal in Spirit. But am I taking things too far by suggesting a pub – especially a classy venue like the Newtown – could be a spiritual home for Queer Newtown? We’re not materially poorer for loosing one venue and maybe setting up somewhere else. But we have lost something of the richness of human experience, on a level which transcends the material."
Now, am I getting this right? This guy wants to be some sort of moral/social leader, yet he finds a "richness of human experience" in the gay bar scene. What does being equal in Spirit - note the capital "S" - have to do with clubbing? How can services at his church be anything but incredibly morally bankrupt if he suggests that that a pub might be a "spiritual home" for a segment of a towns population?
Now the big question...
Why should I care about what he says and does?
I'd like to end this post there, but I can't. I can't because I care. I care because this is a platform of aching souls who need to know they are loved and that the Church's ultimate position is that of God's ultimate love. I hope that more than a few of the protesters might be converted by the love of Christ they will witness in our kids. Until then, I ask you to pray for them.