Thursday, August 25, 2005

Condoms4Life Message an Outstanding Success at Catholic World Youth Day

An International Youth Coalition Challenging the Vatican on Issues of Justice

For Immediate Release
19 August 2005

+1 202 986 6093

Condoms4Life Message an
Outstanding Success at
Catholic World Youth Day
“Good Catholic Use Condoms” Resonates with Pilgrims, Nuns and Clergy

COLOGNE—“If only one thing became more clear this week it is that we know we are pushing at an open door on HIV/AIDS prevention in the Catholic church. The church hierarchy will change its position and lift the ban on condoms—it is inevitable. The urgent question that we ask the cardinals and bishops to address is how many more people must die needlessly before common sense and decency prevails in the leadership of the church on the question of the use of condoms,” said Andrea Ramírez, a member of “World Youth Day 4 All” (WYD4All, an independent coalition of progressive youth from around the globe), representing Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir in Bolivia. “How long will it take for the bishops and cardinals to admit that they got it wrong when it comes to the ban on condoms?”

At the end of the Catholic World Youth Day festival in Cologne, Germany, WYD4All celebrated the widespread support and endorsement the Condoms4Life public education campaign and the international group of progressive youth received this week from fellow pilgrims, nuns and clergy.

WYD4All encountered overwhelming enthusiasm in Cologne and from around the world as they distributed safer sex advice and information concerning the bishops’ ban on condoms. “This demonstrates that young people are behind those bishops around the world who have already stood up and told the Vatican that it is moral to use condoms to prevent the transmission of death and that condoms are for life,” WYD4All posted on its official blog (

This week in Cologne at the Youth Hearing (a Catholic World Youth Day event), WYD4All coalition member Adam Qvist of Denmark asked the bishops, “How can you ban condoms when people are dying of AIDS?” The audience applauded him for over a minute until silenced by the moderator. Then, every bishop there endorsed condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ozzie Warwick, of Trinidad and Tobago and a member of the steering committee for the WYD4ALL coalition, stated that the emergence of the coalition represented an unprecedented new step forward in global activism, “a powerful force that will live on in the struggle long after this week.”

“For the first time ever, both Catholic and sexual health and rights activists have joined hands in creating a 16-country coalition using 11 languages to challenge what is a great injustice: the Vatican’s ban on the use of condoms,” continued Warwick. “We have said it loudly so that it rings around the world. Last year, there were 39.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Almost 60,000 people died of AIDS this week as we waited for the pope. We will not accept the Vatican’s lobbying at forums like the United Nations and the European Union to stop Catholics and non-Catholics gaining access to life saving condoms.”

“We had fantastic reactions from most people we approached,” said Ramírez. “Much as we feel frustrated with the head-in-the-sand approach of the hierarchy to condoms, our coalition knows the winds of change are blowing through the Catholic church now more than ever on the question of safer sex and condoms. The young pilgrims were glad we were there spreading the word about HIV and condoms. One African nun was especially happy to see us telling the pilgrims that condoms save lives. She told me that the youth must do the responsible thing and use condoms.”

Among the Successes:

  • Pilgrims welcomed and cheered the World Youth Day 4 All coalition, complimenting the giant Condoms4Life billboards and posters that plastered the Cologne mass transit system.
  • WYD4All handed out thousands of stickers and postcards proclaiming “Condoms prevent HIV/AIDS” and “Good Catholics Use Condoms” in German, Spanish and English. Pilgrims not affiliated with the group even joined in to spread the word.
  • Young progressive activists from all over the world working on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues came together for the first time to advocate for the Vatican to lift the ban on condoms and to promote a compassionate and just position on HIV/AIDS prevention.
  • The international media kept the issues of HIV/AIDS prevention and the unjust ban on condoms central to its coverage of Catholic World Youth Day.
  • Supporters from all over the world sent messages of encouragement and thanks to the World Youth Day 4 All coalition on its blog:

Gute KatholikInnen verwenden Kondome/Buenos católicos y católicas usan condones/
Good Catholics Use Condoms

Read about the progress the group made this week on the WY4All blog:

See the Condoms4Life campaign advertisements placed throughout the Cologne metro system at

The WYD4All youth coalition will finish distribution this weekend and will be available for media comment through Sunday.


The World Youth Day 4 All Coalition (WYD4All
) is an international youth coalition dedicated to promoting church reform, sexual and reproductive health and rights and youth activism. WYD4All will be in Cologne for the duration of Catholic World Youth Day in support of the Condoms4Life campaign to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms. The Condoms4Life ad campaign and informational brochure can be found at

World Youth Day 4 All are: Wir sind Kirche-JUGEND / We Are Church-YOUTH
* YouACT / European Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights * Catholics for a Free Choice * CDD Bolivia/Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir * Homosexuelle und Kirche / Homosexuals and Church

The Condoms4Life Campaign is a project of Catholics for Free Choice (CFFC), which shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well being and respect and affirm the moral capacity of women and men to make sound decisions about their lives. Through discourse, education and advocacy, CFFC works in the US and internationally to infuse these values into public policy, community life, feminist analysis and Catholic social thinking and teaching.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Messages of support keep rolling in

Thank you so much for representing us and fighting for our rights as Catholics to promote condom use! With the AIDS epidemic at hand it seems cruel to me that condoms be against our religion as Catholics. It seems ignorant and unjust for condoms to be condemmed. Not only can they prevent disease, but they can prevent the need for abortions. Good luck!!! GOD BE WITH YOU in your struggle to get the church to treat it's members as Jesus would have wanted it to.

Rose Hartzell


Dear fighters for human justice and openess within the church,

As I see in the papers you do a great job, working against the Vatican-tide, but in harmony with the vast majority of modern vitaly believing catholics.

Keep courage!

And thank you for your investment in the future of real humanity, as demanded by the gospel and understood by the mainstream within the catholic church.

hubert michiels van kessenich
married priest


Good for you all in resistance in Cologne! I worked with Tobias and others at "Challenge the Church" during the papal visit in 2002! Great international solidarity!

Spirit Sophia is moving. Bless you all from all of us.

Rosemary Ganley

Toronto, Canada


Congratulations on your terrific effort!

It is so important to make the public aware that large numbers of people, especially young Catholics, do not support the Vatican’s opposition to condom use for the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

We hope by your example you encourage other young people to mobilise in protecting their own sexual health and rights.

Let your voices be heard, strong and loud during this weekend and long afterwards!

Victoria Rugg
International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network


Only just seen the email about your groups' activites in Cologne and so thought I'd let you know you have much support from myself and many of those I know!

All the best,
Anna Foss


Message for Youth Activists:

Thank you for getting the word out that using condoms and taking care of eachother is "pro-life."

Emily Barcklow
Coordinadora de Proyecto
Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, A.C.


Dear Comrades gathered in Cologne representing the Youth and Faith Sectors,

People of South Africa salute you for the honourable deed you are doing. We ask you to stand strong in your conviction and know that we if we could be with you we would make a lot of noise (which is called toi-toiying here in South Africa).

The Catholic Church, by banning condoms, is imposing a life sentence of people, espcecially in the developing world. The AIDS Consortium is located in South Africa. We are part of sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the most people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world. Our people are dying. Some brave Catholic Priests here hand out condoms in the townships because they see the futility of the Church's antiquated ruling and understand that condoms can save lives. To ban condoms is inmoral, unethical and wrong.

VIVA World Youth Day 4 All Coalition VIVA. This is the spirit of true democracy. Shout your say and know that you are the mouthpiece of the the poorest of the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalised. SHOUT LOUD AND BE PROUD.

We Salute You
The AIDS Consortium (South Africa)
So people have been asking about the bishop and cardinal who spoke of their support for the ABC approach (Abstain-Be faithful-use a Condom) to HIV/AIDS prevention. I am attaching an article from Deutsche Welle about it. It was German Bishop Reinhard Marx and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez from Honduras.

Reformers Turn Up Heat on Church,1564,1683801,00.html

Not everyone at WYD is cheering for the pope

Critics have been present at World Youth Day, bringing up issues such as the role of women, family planning and gay rights. There are signs that the gap between them and church leaders is narrowing.

As World Youth Day (WYD) enters its climactic phase with the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, church critics are also stepping up their activities. A number of reform organizations from around the world have been handing out flyers and staging events in the city of Cologne in an attempt to reach the young people attending the Catholic festival.

United under the umbrella of the "World Youth Day 4 All Coalition" (WYD4All), they have set up their base for the duration of the gathering in a church in the city center.

While there is hardly any room given to controversial issues in the official WYD program, young believers' response to critical questions has been enormous, says Aisha Taylor, program director of the US-based Women's Ordination Conference.

"The possibility for priests to get married, the rights of gays and lesbians, more democratic participation for lay people -- all these are points on which we would like to see progress," she said.

Women priests unsettle leaders

A particular focus of Taylor's work concerns the role of women in the church. According to official doctrine women cannot be become priests.

"When seven women were ordained priests in 2002 by a dissident bishop in Austria, the Vatican excommunicated the women within a week or so," Taylor, 24, said.

At the time, it was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now Pope Benedict XVI, who lead the charge against them.

Yet, judging from responses from the people thronging the streets of Cologne, equal rights for women in the church consistently rank among the top demands, reports Taylor, who sees the demonstrative ordination of women also as a way to elicit a direct response from the Vatican.

"The pope is getting annoyed and knows who we are," she said. "But we have to use these alternative paths to make our opinions known, because the church is not a democracy and its members have no vote."

Even if Benedict XVI refuses to recognize women priests, in the future another pope could make a cut with the past, she says. And the ongoing effort by reformers is having an impact, she adds: "We now have female altar service and women who work as Eucharistic ministers. And in a letter the pope, then a cardinal, made a point of the equality of men and women in public life -- except in the church context."

Latin American concerns

In other regions of the world, such as Latin America, where a large majority of the population is Catholic, there is not necessarily a less critical view than in Europe or North America.

"The church has a lot of spiritual and political power in our part of the world," said 25-year-old Andrea Ramirez from Bolivia who heads the youth chapter of the "We Are Church" reform movement in her home country. "But there is also strong support for the gay movement or the feminists."

"We want to show that you can be a good Catholic and be gay or lesbian. Or that you can be a good Catholic and use condoms," she said.

The ongoing refusal by the Vatican to soften its stance on family planning or the use of condoms is particularly detrimental to poor countries, says Ramirez.

"But maybe the pope hasn't had enough time, yet, to properly get in touch with the very real problems of the nations of the south."

The refusal by conservative church leaders to engage in debate sometimes takes forms that amount to keeping information away from young believers, critics say.

“We have seen how nuns accompanying a group of young Catholics took away from them the flyers we had just handed out to them,” reports Agnes Rudnik, a spokeswoman for the gay and lesbian groups at WYD.

Cheer the pope, follow your conscience - no problem

So is it a contradiction that young people attending WYD are welcoming the pope with overwhelming enthusiasm, yet feel strongly about a number contentious issues on which they are opposed to the pontiff, as reformers claim?

"I don’t think there is a contradiction when people cheer the pope and follow their conscience at the same time,” says Tobias Raschke, the German spokesman for "We Are Church.” "Young people feel it is their church and sincerely want the pope to understand what their concerns are.”

The critics make a strong point that they are part of the church and do consider themselves firmly rooted in the faith.

"I really hope our work gives a new impetus for change to the pope, because he’s my religious leader after all,” says Ramirez.

“I love my faith and the Catholic Church, it’s my heritage, my tradition", says Aisha Taylor.

Signs of change

While WYD is an event that appeals to the masses, many young reformers agree that behind it there is a genuine attempt to reach out to the younger generation. The efforts and successes of the church in tackling social problems, injustice and poverty around the world is something that draws particularly strong support from young people.

One of the few events WYD organizers put on to engage young people in an open debate focused on precisely these themes called "YouthHearing."

Held at a community center in Cologne on Wednesday afternoon, there was rapturous applause from the floor when critics brought up the ban on condom use, which in their view undermines the fight against HIV/AIDS in poor countries.

In their response, German Bishop Reinhard Marx and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez from Honduras stopped just short of actively endorsing condoms, but acknowledged that they can play an important role.

A revolution? Not quite. But participants left with a feeling that change is in the air.

Ranty Islam, DW-WORLD.DE
On behalf of the Gender AIDS Forum we hereby extend our solidarity to you at a time when Pope Benedict of Vatican oppose the use of condoms as dangerious and wrong to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, while many young women and men continue to die of a preventable disease, and whilst treatment access for many is unnecessarily a long way off.

We are sad to note that there are people of influence in the church who are still in denial and ignorance of making sure that we respond to the realities of the HIV and AIDS epidemics. The promotion of condom usage as a form of preventative measure for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) is a crucial method to curb the new spread of HIV infection amongst young people.

We believe that young women and men need to know of and to claim their sexual and reproductive health and rights so as to make informed choices whether or not to engage in sexual activities that might put them at risk of getting infected with HIV. There's no doubt that most young people are sexually active and most vulnerable to HIV infection. affects young people whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic. We, in South Africa have witnessed so many young people in churches who are living with HIV positively and openly and others who are neglected and disowned by their own church members and leaders. We believe that the church has to support its members unconditionally and non judgementally as this will ensure an enabling environment to those who need spiritual care, guidence, information and support.

The shift in society, lead by the church amongst others, must be towards one that is RIGHTS BASED, enabling and facilitating the process of young women and men working for gender justice and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We call upon and encourage young women and men globally to take responsibility to save their lives and to proactively make choices and decisions that advance their health rights. As young women and men, let us colectively and with an equal voice, advocate for access to and respect of our sexual and reproductive health and rights. Let us work in solidarity with other young women and men activists in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Yours In Solidarity.

Thembani Chamane

Advocacy Youth Programme
Gender AIDS Forum



La Red Nacional Católica de Jóvenes por el Derecho a Decidir, enviamos uncaluroso abrazo al equipo que ha puesto sus energías en la campaña WorldYouth Day for All. Es grato saber que en esta Jornada Mundial de la Juventudse escucharon las preocupaciones reales de las personas jóvenes católicas.Nos emociona saber que la iglesia que soñamos y construimos todos los días,tiene voz en ese importante foro.

En esta ocasión, desde México, nos unimos a estos esfuerzos con lasreflexiones emanadas de nuestro Encuentro Nacional, el cual buscó abonar ala lucha por una comunidad que respete y promueva la libertad de concienciay el ejercicio de los derechos sexuales de las y los jóvenes.

Nuestro más sincero reconocimiento para su trabajo, que es una inspiraciónpara seguir con optimismo y amor.

Atte:Red Nacional Católica de Jóvenes por el Derecho a Decidir



Congrats on the WYD4All presence....great blog and postcards.

Harry Walsh
International AIDS Alliance


Dear World Youth Day 4 All Coalition

I was so elated and encouraged to hear about your action in Cologne. This is a word just to wish you WELL in every way with this absolutely crucial work you are doing. Human history will be savagely marked by the failure of the Catholic Church core to understand the radical need to rethink old positions on condoms facing HIV/AIDS. If change is possible, it will be youth like you who activate the discussions and persuade about the urgent need to respond compassionately and "in good faith" to the human realities within which HIV moves. GOOD LUCK. ALL COURAGE. Millions across the world are behind you, as they read newspapers, understand the realities you are trying to work with.

I have worked in HIV prevention (my focus is on gender issues blocking prevention) since... 1986, focused towards helping youth capacity build, with deep commitment and in many projects and countries. It is daunting work and all the odds of poverty and lack of information and blocked attitudes and beliefs are huge. But I am hugely encouraged and inspired by hearing of the passion and commitment of groups like you.

Let me know basic info about your coalition... I may want to contact you about some ideas I am brewing.

With all best and warmest wishes. GOOD LUCK with all your efforts. Keep your courage high.

Jill Lewis
Living for Tomorrow
HIV/AIDS prevention with a central focus on gender

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dispatch from Adam

Wednesday the 17th of August,

At the International Youth Hearing in Köln, hundreds of young people met with bishops, other powerful groups connected to the Catholic Church and the media to discuss justice and peace.

Members of the WYD4ALL Coalition were there to encourage debate and to challenge the Catholic Church's globally hegemony on the politics of the use of condoms. The youth hearing in itself had partially mentioned the HIV/AIDS in the agenda but not exactly connected to the use of neither condoms nor the Church's role in the commonly talked about "bishops ban on condoms".

Besides handing out our material and discussing with the significantly positive and interested youth and media outlets from all over the world, we of course took on the bishops.

When the forum finally began considering different issues concerning the right to health the Coalition rose and delivered the much feared but highly potent statement and question on global HIV/AIDS. With millions dying from, even greater numbers being infected every year and tens of millions currently carrying HIV/AIDS, the audience showed their support to the ideas of the Condoms4life campaign with first a massive applause and after Bishop Rivera Carreras response an even more loud and tormenting silence.

Both the bishops present at theYouth Hearing responded with a somewhat vague statement but nonetheless they agreed on condoms being a part of the fight on HIV/AIDS in front of a live German TV audience.

Seeing and hearing the support given from the young Catholic community has made our Coalition believe in a revolution of the Catholic Church's position on the use of condoms.

It'll never be a question of if but only a question of when.

Adam Qvist,

Friday, August 19, 2005

Phenomenal success, WYD4All!

I've been poking around the Internet (including Google and its cousins), and I have found an astonishing number of articles, photos and video & radio clips about your efforts. To date, I have found you covered by:

Deutsche Welle, Germany * the Associated Press * The Guardian UK * Times Online (London) * the National Catholic Reporter * Vatican Radio (!!) * VTR (Belgium, I think) * RTE (Ireland) * Badische Zeiting * 2DF * Ren TV (Russia) * Bavarian public radio * Deutsche Welle * Le Soir in Belgium * BBC World Service * ABC News USA * CBS News USA * Canal+ * Die Welt * the main daily paper in Cologne, Stadt Koeln (that had pictures of you and our messages passed out to pilgrims all over the city!) * WDR * Taz nrw * Chicago Tribune, United States * Los Angeles Times, CA * San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA *, FL * The State, SC * Bradenton Herald, United States *, PA * Black Hills Pioneer, SD * Seattle Post Intelligencer * Pioneer Press, MN * CTV, Canada * Picayune, LA - * News & Observer, NC * Gadsden Times * The Conservative Voice * New York Newsday, NY * The Ledger, FL * Tuscaloosa News, AL * Times Daily, AL * * Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC*Macon Telegraph, GA*Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, GA * Duluth News Tribune, MN * San Jose Mercury News, * Fort Wayne News Sentinel, IN *, KY * Kansas City Star, MO * Centre Daily Times, PA *, PA * Biloxi Sun Herald, USA * Charlotte Observer, NC * Monterey County Herald, CA * Fort Worth Star Telegram * Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IN * Grand Forks Herald, ND * Akron Beacon Journal, OH * Baltimore Sun, United States * EiTB, Spain * Correio Braziliense.... goes on and on.
Remarks from Joana at the press conference:

Joana Almeida, YouAct
25 years old
16 August 2005

After realizing the global situation on HIV and AIDS on the world, I state that we forget too often about the connection of this problem with the broader context of sexual and reproductive health and rights approach.

Sexual health is a right of young people and as a youth advocate, it is my duty to remind the importance of the achievement of ALL the sexual rights for Young People – as the biggest youth generation ever coming on...

Information is one the main sexual rights which has to be met to also achieve other rights. This is why I believe in comprehensive sexuality education as a pathway to help youth solve their life problems. I want an education that respects AGE, GENDER, and, of course SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

The WYD4ALL also counts the great work of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Young People and we cannot forget the unnecessary and unfair deaths because of sexual discrimination or because indirect violence, coming also from the Church, or just inspired by the Catholic traditions.

Another right I would like to stress is the access to youth friendly reproductive services, contraception and treatment medication for sexual related problems. Condoms save lives – this larger access to contraception prevents even more lives to be lost.

As I come from Portugal, I feel in my daily life the negative consequences that the Church can have on our young lives. The Catholic Church hierarchy needs to accept that we young people can choose for ourselves and we will choose for ourselves, even if it is against our family, school, friends, society. Every choice is personal and many times we not do expect or desire and even agree what others choose for themselves.

Finally and because this is mainly a youth encounter and many young leaders are present in Cologne, I would like to stress the importance of youth empowerment and participation, as equal actors in society. We ask the catholic Church to listen and observe their young people, ALL of us, and bring new spirit into tradition!

We ask for Church reforms – we ask for evolution! We want condoms4life!

YouAct is European Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Youth


and on the back:


Dispatch from Cajus

I got a lot of positive feedback in a totaly filled up Cologne with happy young people from around the world. This day was focused on the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI, but that didn't take away from our campaign. With the pope's coming, there were no other events going on, so we had many people to give our stickers and postcards. We handed out our stickers and postcards and got a lot of support.



Encouragement from Catholics Speak Out

Cheers to all of you for the hard work of getting the news out: Catholics the world over do not agree with the Vatican's stance on condoms.

Rea Howarth, Coordinator
Catholics Speak Out/Quixote Center

Dispatch from Emily

We are approching the end of our Catholic World Youth Day 2005 extravaganza, and this has been an amazing journey. The announcement that we were mentioned on Vatican Radio elevated our sense of accomplishment to the max. There have been so many interesting and unique experiences to talk about. I will highlight just a few.

The Gay Parade.
There were more rainbow gay pride flags concentrated in one spot at the Papal parade through the streets of Cologne than those of any other nation. We arrived in our red t-shirts with our handouts, and within 20 minutes every single person had put at least one sticker on. Our sticker was even added to a poster a German gay group was holding up for Benedict. (NOTE: Our stickers ended up a lot of places that we absolutely did not put them.) There were many rounds of “Wir sind alle homosexuals” (We are all homosexuals) sung to the tune of “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles.

500 people had been standing in support of the GLBT community for 6 hours by the time the Pope passed by. As he passed, Benedict XVI waved like the Queen Mother, smiled, and looked away. Despite this small snub, we were really proud to have been there. The love and support we got from the GLBT community, as well as their outstanding support of C4L, made us feel really good about our work that day.

The YouAct Workshop on HIV/ AIDS.
I attended this workshop on Thursday August 18 at the We Are Church Center. The workshop attracted people of all ages and nationalities. At first, some of the leaders were not sure about how participants would feel about open discourse on sex, but they proved to be a curious audience that appreciated our message.

A frank and honest discussion about sex

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

During the final discussion, some older people were eager to share their knowledge on how the church has been in the past. They agreed that sexuality should be accepted by the church, and the fact that priests have normal human drives should not be suppressed anymore. They felt the old Catholic Church from 1,000 years ago, which allowed for married priests, made more sense. The only reason the rule on celibacy was enforced was because they did not want lose church properties to the heirs of the clergy. It was good to know that the older generations are on our side.

YouAct rocks! Here they do an exercise.

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

The Molly & Father Mitchell Show
Today on the Metro from Neumarkt to the Hyatt, Molly demonstrated that she has both the courage and the compassion of her convictions. We were standing next to a priest who was only maybe 2 or 3 years older than us. They got talking about our t-shirts and stickers (which she offered him immediately). When he asked if she had read Humanae Vitae, she said yes. When he said she should be open to the Church, she said she told him she is very open to it -- it is the church she loves and her spiritual home. When he asked her to keep an open mind, she requested the same. She said the Church had been opened with Vatican II, but JPII closed it, and Benedict was nailing it shut.

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

^Father Mitchell

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

^Molly, a few days ago.

(has any one else noticed that Molly has an encyclopedic knowledge of Catholic history, the lives of the saints, the Catechism, canon law, etc.?)

Father Mitchell claimed we were living in the 60s and these new morals were of the 21st century, thereby proving Molly’s point about a once open and now closed Church. He told her he was studying these issues and knew more about them than we did. Molly called him on this, and he actually said that he would have to go to confession again on this day, as he had just committed the sin of pride. The people on the train were captivated thoughout the whole conversation, and whispered things like “that’s right, you tell him”. When we exited the train and exchanged our blessings with the Father, we all felt invigorated. It was a really intense conversation, and none of us really knew how it would end, but I am proud to announce that it was cordial and even respectful, and I think when we parted ways, everone felt enriched by the exchange.


Message for Youth Activists:

Thank you for getting the word out that using condoms and taking care of eachother is "pro-life."

Emily Barcklow

Coordinadora de Proyecto Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía
Trabajo y Familia


Thanks to all who are involved in making choice possible not fear!

Activists working the crowd

All photos Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Indefatigable is the word that comes to mind. Each day, WYD4All coalition members are out on the streets of Cologne, sharing vital information with youth from all over the world and making friendships that will last a lifetime (I know it sounds kind of dorky, but I am moved by all the emails I keep receiving).

It's enormously satisfying to read and see interviews with many of the pilgrims not directly affiliated with WYD4All, but who are proudly wearing the sticker (I'll post shortly) and who are telling everyone who asks that the pope MUST lift the ban on condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

It is appalling that almost 60,000 people died of AIDS this week. It is unacceptable that 14,000 people acquire HIV per day. It is unconscionable that ANYONE who has the means and information to help people protect themselves from the pandemic would withhold or refuse life-saving information and services from people in need.

God bless these young activists of the WYD4All coalition who have courageously stood up and loudly spoken truth and justice to all who would listen.


Houben: Kondome sind zur AIDS-Bekämpfung unverzichtbar

"Condoms are indispensible to the fight against AIDS."

This is amazing news: yesterday the leader of the liberal party in Germany said a strict rejection of condoms is irrealistic. FDP chairman Reinhard Houben said that while abstinence might be a respectable individual decision, in times of growing infection:

"a strict ban on the use of condoms so out of touch with reality. We need to remove the taboo from using condoms as a component of the fight of the scourge AIDS. Each day, 14,000 people around the world get infected with HIV, of those, half are between 15 and 24 years. Christian love requires us to prevent the spread of AIDS by acknowledging prevention. At WYD, besides spiritual contacts, there might also happen bodily ones. Condoms can protect in these circumstances. Besides helping to prevent pregnancies, condoms help to prevent STIs. It is simply unrealistic to imagine that Catholic youth will behave in love affairs in a different way than other young people. For this reason we will participate in distributing condoms to the pilgrims."

It's clear that young people at risk of catching HIV are the real victors here this week.

Houben: Kondome sind zur AIDS-Bekämpfung unverzichtbar Am heutigen Donnerstag, 18. August, wird die Kölner FDP ab 17.30 Uhr auf dem Rudolfplatz und den Ringen mit der AIDS-Hilfe Kondome an die Pilger aus aller Welt verteilen. Gemeinsam mit dem Kreisvorsitzenden Reinhard Houben und FDP-Fraktionsgeschäftsführer Ulrich Breite, werden zahlreiche Junge Liberale an der Aktion teilnehmen. Hierzu erklärt FDP-Vorsitzender Reinhard Houben: „So wichtig Enthaltsamkeit als individuelle Entscheidung sein mag, so realitätsfern ist in Zeiten weiter zunehmender AIDS-Neuinfektionen eine strikte Ablehnung des Gebrauchs von Kondomen. Als einen Baustein zur Bekämpfung der Geißel AIDS brauchen wir die Enttabuisierung von Kondomen. Täglich infizieren sich weltweit 14.000 Menschen mit HIV, davon die Hälfte Jugendliche und Heranwachsende zwischen 15 und 24 Jahren. Es ist ein Gebot der christlichen Nächstenliebe, die Verbreitung von Aids durch die Anerkennung von Verhütung und Prävention zu bekämpfen. Denn auch beim Weltjugendtag wird es sicherlich neben geistigen auch körperlichen Kontakt geben. Bei letzterem können Kondome schützen. Denn neben der Schwangerschaftsverhütung dienen Kondome auch dem Schutz vor sexuell übertragbaren Krankheiten. Es ist einfach weltfremd anzunehmen, dass sich katholische Jugendliche in Liebesdingen völlig anders verhalten, als der Rest der Jugend. Daher werden wir aktiv an der Verteilung der Kondome an die Pilger teilnehmen.“

Words of Support from South Africa

Dear Comrades gathered in Cologne representing the Youth and Faith Sectors,

People of South Africa salute you for the honourable deed you are doing. We ask you to stand strong in your conviction and know that we if we could be with you we would make a lot of noise (which is called toi-toiying here in South Africa).

The Catholic Church, by banning condoms, is imposing a life sentence of people, espcecially in the developing world. The AIDS Consortium is located in South Africa. We are part of sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the most people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world. Our people are dying. Some brave Catholic Priests here hand out condoms in the townships because they see the futility of the Church's antiquated ruling and understand that condoms can save lives. To ban condoms is inmoral, unethical and wrong.

VIVA World Youth Day 4 All Coalition VIVA. This is the spirit of true democracy. Shout your say and know that you are the mouthpiece of the the poorest of the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalised. SHOUT LOUD AND BE PROUD.

We Salute You
The AIDS Consortium

The AIDS Consortium is a national network South African organisation that supports, strengthens and engages directly with community based organisations to improve the impact of HIV Interventions in South Africa. With over 1,000 affiliate members, the AIDS Consortium is a human rights based organisation committed to openness and non-discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS. To this end, the Consortium brings together organizations and individuals in a network that processes information and works towards an equitable response to the pandemic.

More official reaction

Hey -- we hear that the organizers of World Youth Day are more than a little miffed (in fact we think they are really mad) about the Condoms4Life campaign and that our Coalition is enjoying so much success-getting a tremendous reaction from pilgrims and getting the word out all over the world through the media that ***Good Catholics use Condoms***

The German papers reported yesterday that the organisators of WYD are mad about the "condoms4life" campaign. "The whole campaign just misses the real issue", says press-officer Matthias Kopp, according to him, the Catholic church rejects condoms in general - including in the struggle against AIDS. To protect against the disease they promote premarital abstinence and marital fidelity.

Well Matthias I think it is you that misses the real issue- condoms help protect against HIV-CONDOMS HELP SAVE LIVES -Just be grateful that you and your friends live in the global north and can pop into a pharmacy should you decide to take a break from the abstinence thing.....oh and before you go, Matthias, remember-when you refer to THE CHURCH remember that THE CHURCH is more than the hierarchy--- THE CHURCH is in fact all the people of God --we are THE CHURCH and we do not reject condoms.


Offical Hierarchy Reaction to our Issues at CWYD

Is Cardinal Lehman in this press statement signaling a time for change in the church? Maybe he too agrees that the writing is on the wall for the "head in the sand" approach of the hierarchy to sexual issues? By the way, we certainly never said that condoms were the most important aspect of sexual is just simply the responsible thing to do if you are having sex.... and denying sexually active people access to condoms is highly irresponsible, wrong and immoral, especially in the context of sexual ethics.(;-)

From Vatican Radio:

According to Cardinal Lehman the church must communicate better about sexual ethics. The Catholic church "must very certainly approach these issues in a new way". Otherwise they will no longer be listened to, said the president of the German Bishops Conference in an interview with WDR. "And that would be grave, as we would be absent from an important field of our human existence". The bishop of Mayence conceded that sexual ethics and condoms had become today and since the encyclical Humanae Vitae about contraception in 1968, difficult issues. "I believe that, what we say, has to be made more plausible in its justification". It should be avoided that the question of condoms is the most important element of sexual ethics.(KNA) 12 Uhr 53: Lehmann, Sexualethik besser vermittelnDie Kirche muss nach Ansicht von Kardinal Karl Lehmann ihre Sexualethik besser vermitteln. Die katholische Kirche "müsse ganz sicher neu an diese Dinge heran". Sonst laufe sie Gefahr, nicht mehr gehört zu werden, sagte der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz gestern in einem Interview des WDR. "Und das ist auch insofern schlimm, als man in einem wichtigen Bereich unseres menschlichen Lebens dann eigentlich abgemeldet ist."Der Mainzer Bischof räumte ein, dass Sexuallehre und Kondome heute und seit der Enzyklika Humanae Vitae zur Frage der Empfängnisregelung aus dem Jahr 1968 schwierige Themen geworden seien. "Ich glaube, dass man das, was man sagt, einfach in der Begründung noch etwas plausibler machen kann", sagte er. Auch dürfe nicht der Anschein erweckt werden, als sei die Frage der Kondome das Wichtigste in der Sexualethik.(kna 17.08.05 gs)

Remarks from the press conference

As requested, I am attaching some of the remarks that the WYD4All coalition made at Monday's press conference in Cologne as I receive them.

Andrea Ramirez Lanza
August 16, 2005

Good morning, as Tobias said, I come from Bolivia, one of the poorest country of the world were everyday, people are becoming more affect fort he spread of HIV/AIDS. Not only because we are poor but also for all the political and the spiritual influence of the Catholic church in a country were more than the 80 percent of the people are Catholic.

But let me remember you that this percent has a face, the face of the people specially all the women and children that are been affected for the radical position of the Vatican on sexual issues.

The Catholics need education, access and prevention. Without judgment and punishment.
If we don’t have these 3 elements we can not make responsible decisions.

I invite to our spiritual guides to open their minds and hearts and chance their position about sexuality issues.


Support from pro familia

We are enthusiastic about your coalition and the important work you are doing at the World Youth Day 2005 :-)

Your commitment for sexual and reproductive rights supports and encourages young catholic people all over the world and in Germany as well :-)

pro familia is at your side and shares your demands :-)

We regret not being with you in Cologne! Keep on going, keep your passion and enjoy your stay in our country. ;-)

pro familia
The German Members' Association of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Great job, everyone.

All photos Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005


POR: Andrea Ramirez

Naci y creci en una familia catolica, he sido catolica toda mi vida, cada vez que escuchaba historias acerca de Jesus, me hacia mas consciente de que el murio para salvarnos, a ti y a mi.

Creci amando a mis hermanos y hermanas como dice la Biblia. Tiempo despues me doy cuenta de que a pesar de que Jesus murio para salvarnos, las personas aun no hemos aprendido la leccion, y siento esto especialmente cuando escucho sacerdotes que nos condenan solo porque escuchamos nuestra conciencia y tomamos decisiones acerca de nuestros cuerpos y nuestras vidas, cuando escucho a un sacerdote que rechaza a las mujeres jovenes que se ven forzadas a tener un aborto porque no recibieron la educacion para prevenirlo, me siento defraudad cuando escucho sacerdotes que no pueden aceptar que especialemente las personas jovenes necesitamos usar un condon para porteger nuestras vidas y proteger la vida de nuestras parejas.Me siento muy triste cuando veo que mis hermanos y hermanas estan siendo separadas de la Iglesia donde crecieron y se criaron debido a su orientacion o preferencia sexual.

Como ven, esta no es la manera correcta de seguir lo que Jesus nos enseno, no es correcto exponer la vida de las personas y imponer las creencias encima del bienestar de las personas, no esta bien usar la fe y manipular los corazones y las mentes de quienes no pueden expresarse.

Como buenos Catolicos, nuestros lideres religiosos tienen la obligacion moral de abrir sus mentes y corazones para frenar la pandemia del VIH/SIDA en el mundo, es tiempo de que acepten de que los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos aseguran nuestro bienestar, nuestra integridad y dignidad. Es necesario que tanto las mujeres como los hombres seamos tratadas y tratados con igualdad, con los mismos Derechos en todos los niveles de la Iglesia.

No quiero dejar mi Iglesia, quiero ser parte de una Iglesia reformada, mas tolerante y respetuosa que ama y acepta a todas las personas. Esta es la iglesia que deseo!!!

BY: Andrea Ramirez

I grew in a catholic family I been catholic all my life, every time I heard about Jesus, I realized that he died to save every one, not only rich people, people from the north, south east or west, heterosexual people, or people who goes every Sunday to the church. I knew that he died to save us, you and me.

I grew loving all my brothers and sisters as the Bible says. Then, I realized that even if Jesus died to save us, people did not learn the lesson, especially when I hear a priest who condemned us just because we decided to follow our conscience and make our own choices, when he excluded a young women who decided to have an abortion because she didn’t have education to prevent becoming pregnant. I feel very disappointed when I hear a priest who cannot accept that especially young people needs to protect their lives and the lives of their lovers by using a condom. I feel bad when I see people been separated from the church where they grew up because their sexual orientation.

As you see, this is not a good way to follow what Jesus taught us. It's not good to expose people and put the beliefs over the well-being. It is not good to use the faith to manipulate the hearts and minds of those ones who can speak for themselves.

As good Catholics, our religious leaders have the moral obligation to open their hearts and minds in order to stop the spread of the HIV/AIDS, its time to accept that sexual and reproductive rights ensure our well-being, our integrity and dignity. It's necessary to treat women and men as equal, with the same rights at all levels of the church

I don’t want to leave my church, I just want to be part of a reformed church, more tolerant and respectful that loves and welcomes everyone. This is the church that I want!!!

Today's parade

International kudos

ASPIRE supports the Condoms4Life campaign. Best wishes to the youth on the Catholic Youth Day!

Glennis Hyacinth


Nosotras enviamos nuestros mejores deseos, y mucha fuerza y coraje tanto para Andrea como para Molly y Emily. Aunque estemos a la distancia las estamos acompañando en nuestros pensamientos.

Un abrazo grande para cada una.
Por CDD Buenos Aires
Silvana Stegelmann


A note of thanks for your extremely important work on balancing spirituality and sexual health. Your efforts are much appreciated!
Janet Madsen, Communications Coordinator
Positive Women's Network


Old man from Myanmar.


I of course very much support the youth coalition in Cologne. Those friends of ours have been on Dutch tv all over for the last two days, in the well known t shirts condoms4life. They are doing a very good job and a very important one. They are alerting the world to the fact that substantial numbers of catholics do not support the Vatican's policies in certain areas and they are alerting the participants to the wrongdoings of an institution they are supporting. They are also bringing some contents to a rather festive but empty gathering. I do not have to alert the Dutch media to them, they found them already, I am proud of that little Dutch crowd over there as much as I am proud of all their friends from around the world.

Joke van Kampen
the Netherlands

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

I just want to take a minute and gush over the incredible response we have head from just about everyone. People on the street. People on the metro. People over the internet. People from our schools and offices. It's really rewarding to see a face brighten when the read the postcard that you've handed them and ask for more. Given our reception here, I think I can say with confidence that this demonstrates that young people are behind those bishops around the world who have already stood up and told the Vatican that it is moral to use condoms to prevent the transmission of death and that condoms are for life.

It hasn't been totally perfect (though what is?). We heard that one of our ads was damaged by vandals. No biggie as the campaign ads are by the hundred all over the metro system. However it sort of makes you feel sad when this sort of thing happens but I guess you get destructive people at any big event be it a football game or a religious celebration. Certainly the pilgrims we meet everyday are in strong agreement with our message that condoms save lives, so I'm not taking it personally. Besides, have seen destruction of the pope's image too on billboards throughout the city - some people have put a little Adolf Hitler mustache on him.......oh dear oh dear oh dear..

Today we even got endorsed by a German politician. Claudia Roth came by to tell us she supports what we are doing in Cologne and she thinks we are great.

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Can't believe it's already almost Friday. I saw some cool pieces on google. I'm really proud of the whole coalition and I hope that we continue to find ways to work together.

From the London Times today:

Pope faces condom protest on visit to GermanyBy Ruth Gledhill for Times Online

The new Pope embarked on the toughest test of his papacy to date when he arrived in his native German this morning to greet a crowd of more than 400,000 young Catholics gathered to celebrate World Youth Day.
The event, which became one of the biggest showcases of his charismatic predecessor's reign, has already been the focus of lobbying by the some of the Church's most committed youth on issues such as the Vatican's opposition to condom use to prevent the spread of Aids.

Pro-condom posters have been plastered throughout Cologne's public transport system as part of the Condoms4Life during the week-long event.

The other billboard

photo Copyright Molly O'Gorman, CFFC, 2005

Sorry -- there are so many people in Cologne now, that the best picture I could get has pilgrims and Cologne-dwellers in front. We have similar postcards, which the other travelers here love. I'm worried that we might run out by Sunday - although that's probably a good thing!

Dispatch from Elfriede

Talked this morning with Agnes from KLuST, our Gay and Lesbian partners.

She was very, very, very excited about the WYD4ALL coalition activities in Cologne. They have had incountable opportunities to speak to all sorts of journalists and have all given lots of individual interviews for radio, TV, print media, and people begin recognizing them in the street for their appearence on TV and telling them that they think they are doing a magnificent job. The various press conferences have been extremely successful, with the one of WAC yesterday being entirely broadcast by Phoenix, an important German TV.

Agnes and her partner Katarina have been accompanied by a TV journalists for a very large part of the day yesterday as they need this material for a 20 minute documentary on the WYD that they are preparing.

The most amazing experience they have had so far was the encounter with a nun from - guess where: Bethlehem! - who came up to them to tell them that this campaign was very important and she would very much thank them to be in Cologne spreading this information. That she warmly encouraged them to keep on with enthusiasm.

People seem particularly happy with the stickers.


From Zimbabwe

Thank you very much for the courage you and your colleagues have taken on the matter of condoms. The Catholic is playing a dangerous game by not acknowledging that condoms can and do help in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I know of many priests and nuns who have died from HIV/AIDS. This simply tells us that the ideal (abstinence) alone is not enough. Yes, this is our aspiration and we must have it as our goal, and yet the reality is that we human beings fall in the process of striving for the ideal.

I am a very proud Catholic and I do not agree with the Church’s stand on condoms. I am fortunate to be enlightened and independent alongside my faith. Yet I know many brothers and sisters in the Church who follow the church leadership religiously and believe whatever they say. These are the ones who are being led to death by the church’s less realistic stand on condoms. I cannot thank you enough for you courage and initiative. Let us wake up to the reality of our time.

Martin Kalungu-Banda

Support from Around the World

Thank you thank you for your brave work! It sounds like you all are having the opportunity to really connect with people, and I am so glad to know you are sparking these critical conversations that might not have taken place without you!

Peace…Vanessa B.


Dear World Youth Day 4 All Coalition:

I fully support your action and presence at the Catholic World Youth Day events.

A luta continua (The fight continues)
Phyllis Orner
University of Cape Town


I would like to offer my support to your group in your efforts to promote the use of condoms as a preventive measure in the spread of HIV/AIDS. The official position of the church is unrealistic, irresponsible and dangerous. Finally, the individual conscience should be the arbiter.

Vivien Byrne
South Africa

Dispatch from Andrea

Colonia se siente!!!

Estar aca y ver gente de tooooodas partes del Colonia es fantastico.

Como ustedes saben hemos estado trabajando en la campana Condomes por la Vida, repartiedno tarjetas postales en algunas estaciones del tren en la ciudad (somos los ruidosos y ruidosas de las camisetas rojas) La respuesta de la gente ha sido fantastica.

Por eso felicito a mis colegas y agradezco a todas las personas que han estado mandando mensajes de apoyo.

Por ultimo pido tanto a mis colegas y a todos y todas la preregrinas que seamos mas ordenados y ordenadas, mantengamos limpia la cuidad y respetemos el espacio de todos los ciudadanos y ciudadanas que tan amablemente nos han dado la Bienvenida.

Hasta pronto...

To World Youth Day 4 All activists:

In many situations, the consistent and correct use of condoms can lives, which is a strong teaching in the Bible and in Catholicism. Without a condom, murder may (inadvertantly) be committed.

To me, the lessons are clear -- to allow condoms in certain circumstances is morally and religously necessary, and very-much in keeping with Judeo-Christian values.

You have my support.

L.S., Namibia


Please extend these youth the solid support of the HIV/AIDS Program of Public Health - Seattle & King County. Religious ideals that have the effect of denying youth potentially life-saving information and protection or mis-construing facts are definitely and clearly wrong-headed and need to be strongly opposed, especially when they come from people who themselves have never experienced God-given human sexuality.


Robert W. Wood, MD, FACP Director
HIV/AIDS Program Public Health - Seattle & King County
Seattle, Washington, USA

Dispatch from Ruth

Day three and the experience has being so amazing and I have no doubts that tommorrow should be any different. The response and reaction we have being getting from the plimgrims is nothing but positive. Everyone is so openminded and willing to chat.

As part of our outreach and interaction with the public we have been handing out fliers and postcards. But check this out, people are hanging on to them, there is no evidence on the ground to indicate that people don't have a general interest. Why but of course they have an interest as I believe that the majority realise that this univeral issue of HIV/Aids is something that concerns all of us.

Questions and conversation is everywhere......People want to know! Also the media want to know! The phones are jumping off the hook with newspapers, TV and radio stations wanting interviews. This Coalition that we have formed gets full on thumbs up from me.


The Billboards

(Sorry -- meant to post earlier. --M.)

Dispatch From Tobias .

Dieser Weltjugendtag ist eine wunderbare Möglichkeit, junge Leute aus allerWelt zu treffen und moralische, religiöse und politische Ansichtenauszutauschen und zu diskutieren. Genau das tun wir. Die katholischen religiösen Fanatiker sind, wie im Islam, eine Minderheit, das zeigen unsere Aktionen in aller Klarheit. Der Mensch ist mit Vernunft geboren. Die katholischen Jugendlichen hier auf dem Weltjugendtag sind tolerant und verantwortungs bewusst, es liegt an uns, ihnen die Möglichkeit zu geben, dieszu entwickeln. Ich hoffe, dass eines Tages alle Jugendlichen die Möglichkeiterhalten, in einer Umgebung der Transparenz, Informations- und Meinungsfreiheit aufzuwachsen, und dass auch unsere islamischen Brüder und Schwestern die Möglichkeit erhalten derart öffentlich Kritik zu üben und konstruktiv an ihrer Religion mit zu arbeiten.

This World Youth Day is a wonderful opportunity to meet young people from all over the world and to exchange moral, religious and political views and discuss them. That's exactly what we are doing. Our campaign clearly shows, that religious fanatics are, as they are in Islam, a minority. Man is born with reason. The Catholic youths here at the World Youth Day are tolerant and responsible, it's up for us to give them the opportunity to build on that. I hope, that one day all youths will have the opportunity to grow up in an environment of transparancy and liberty of information and free speech, and that our muslim brothers and sisters are also given the opportunity to criticise as publicly and build as constructively on their religion.

--Tobias, Brazil/Germany (in Köln)

From BBC Bulgaria, from Christina

This is an excerpt from an article, published on the BBC Bulgarian on August 15th, 2005. Translated by Christina.

The European Press on 15 August, Monday

Many European journals comment the visit of the Pope in Germany, while the German newspapers pay more attention to the pre-election campaign inthe country.

[...] "Figaro", another French newspaper describes the expectations ofthe visit of the new Pope under the title: "Expecting Benedikt the 16th". In another article the journal describes that the Pope summons for modernisation of the Christianity in Germany and in other European countries.

The expectations are that the Pope will do everything possible to get the visitors from this meeting on his side.The Pope arrives in Cologne in order to meet with young Catholics and to try to show to the world an act of resignation among the youth and the old man in Vatican, describes the German "Tageszeitung". The Chrurch wants to show up, that his overconservative program is still popular, but in the same time this will be a signal for the decadent countries from Northern and Western Europe, that the masses cannot be gained anymore with a Catholic retro-programme.

According to the article, the Pope will greet people in which he has no trust and the masses will have to greet a Pope, whose advice they rarely follow. It calls World Youth Day a hypocritical, cynical event, in which one can find an element of tragicomedy.

Dispatch from Hedwig


i'm part of the coalition wyd4all and I want to tell you that our campaign is going great. A lot of people, no matter where they are from or how old they are, support us and wear the stickers ("Condoms prevent HIV/AIDS") we give to them. One polish guy was wearing a sticker like a beard and others just want to tell everybody the message so they want to put the sticker right in the front of their faces.

Some of the registrated adolescence run around with pink inflatable gummy hands and when we hand out flyers, they want that we put the flyers on those gummy hands... that is really really funny.

We met people from Cologne, which don't have anything to do with the world youth day, but they love what we are doing and support us. I hope we can reach more people in the following days.

Warmly, HR from Bavaria

Hallo, ich gehöre zu der Wyd4all Koalition und muss Euch wirklich erzählen, dassunsere Kampagne super läuft.Viele Leute, egal woher sie sind oder wie alt sie sind unterstützen uns undtragen die Aufkleber, die wir Ihnen mit der Aufschrift "Kondome schützen vor HIV/AIDS" geben. Ein Pole klebte sich den Aufkleber wie einen Bart an. Andere Leute findendiese Aufkleber sehr wichtig und wollen mit diesen die Jugendlich erreichen.

Einige von den registrierten Jugendlichen rennen mit pinken aufgeblasenen Gummihänden herum und wenn wir Flyer verteilen, wollen diese, dass wir dieFleier auf diese Riesenhände legen... das ist wirklich witzig.

Die Kölner, die nichts mit dem Weltjugentag zu tun haben, finden es super was wir machen und helfen uns indem sie die Aufkleber zum Beispiel auf ihreTaschen kleben. Ich hoffe, dass wir in den nächsten tagen noch mehr Leute erreichen.

herzlichst HR aus Bayern

Dispatch from Sos

I am Sos from Armenia, 21 years old and a member that is actively working for the Condoms4life campaign.

World Youth Day For All is an international Youth Movement that aims at raising awareness of young people on sexual and reproductive rights, sexual orientation and the prevention of HIV/AIDS, focusing on using condoms, as abstinence has a high failure rate.

In the world it is very common that adults speak for young people and do things for young people, but it is so much more effective and fun when young people are doing things for their peers like this, as they understand the needs of each other much better than anyone else.
So, therefore, being a member of this fun campaign, I would like to say that it has been a great opportunity for me to work with so many nice young people from all over the world and make new friends.

Sos, Armenia
(In Cologne with new WYD4All friends)

Dispatch from Elmer

Gisteren, woensdag 18 augustus heb ik bij een kerk een workshop gevolgd. Die ging over het ontbreken van vrouwelijke priesters in de katholieke kerk. Het was erg informatief. De kerk waar de workshop gehouden werd was een oud- katholieke kerk. Bij deze kerk mogen in tegenstelling tot de rooms-katholieke kerk vrouwen wel het priesterambt vervullen.
Veel van wat verteld werd wist ik nog niet. Zo werd er gezegd dat er eigenlijk geen enkel theologisch bezwaar is tegen vrouwelijke priesters. Jammer was wel dat de workshop buiten gehouden werd waardoor je elkaar door de verkeersgeluiden soms slecht kon verstaan.


Molly on

Great job, Molly! It's so important that the truth be told: the Pope can easily, and should, lift the ban on condoms.
'Catholic Woodstock' Activists Want Pope to Allow Condom Use
Will Youth Coalition's Protest Change the Church's Stance on Sex?


Aug. 17, 2005 - Several delegates to the 20th annual Catholic World Youth Day, a six-day gathering in Cologne, Germany, of thousands of young Catholics, are raising eyebrows with their vocal lobbying for the Vatican to drop its ban on condom use.

Church experts say there's little chance of a major change in church policy, and they're questioning the motives of World Youth Day 4 All, an international youth coalition sponsored by Catholics for a Free Choice.

Rome's Beliefs Called 'Out of Touch'"I think that responsible Catholics should be able to decide for themselves what they want to do around sexual health and reproductive rights," said Molly O'Gorman, 24, one of the coalition's committee members.

Brought up as a Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, O'Gorman said she felt something missing from the "official line" and that she admired Catholics who took a stand on social justice based on the reality of life. She and 40 others from 16 countries hit the pavement to get the word out in Cologne. The message: The Pope has got to listen to the youth and get the church active in terms of AIDS prevention.

O'Gorman believes that most of her peers and many Catholics believe in the use of condoms, which is why she's pushing for change. "I think the church leaders hold views that are out of touch with most Catholics and [they] promote policies that aren't smart," she said. The group has sponsored an ad campaign, "Condoms 4 Life," with the multi-lingual slogan "Good Catholics Use Condoms" in the Cologne subway to further the coalition's cause.

John Paul II founded World Youth Day in 1985 to give young people an opportunity to connect with fellow Catholics in a mass movement of prayer and worship. Pilgrims since then have traveled to capitals around the world to share their beliefs and discuss their faith. World Youth Day organizers expect up to 800,000 youths, 700 bishops and nearly 7,000 priests at the festival-like celebration with people from more than 120 countries.

The new pope, Benedict XVI, welcomed the pilgrims today and will make two other scheduled appearances. This marks the new pontiff's first visit abroad (and to his homeland) since his election following John Paul II death in April.

Prayer, Not Politics
Sister Anne of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops believes it's shameless to promote an agenda at a religious event. Youth Day allows young adult Catholics to experience the Christian community and broaden their experience, she said, using the words "life changing," and "very dramatic" to describe past attendees' reactions.

O'Gorman stressed that the coalition didn't chant or harangue passersby nor wear their condom T-shirts inside Cologne's Gothic cathedral. For Sister Anne, regardless of the protest, she believes young Catholics are increasingly accepting and promoting abstinence. She claims there has already been a noticeable change in attitudes about abortion in recent years. "The whole abortion-on-demand concept, if you look at young people, they're not accepting of that perhaps like previous generations before," she said.

Alan Schrek, a theology professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, agrees. He believes that the current generation of Catholics wants to embrace abstinence despite the pervasiveness of sex in modern society. "It's not true anymore that most Catholic people are buying the contraceptive agenda," Schrek said.

He thinks it's important for a "small minority" to express their opinion, but best to ignore them, saying that the church has legitimate means to combat AIDS and that sex should remain within marriage.

Quoting Pope John Paul II's book called "Love and Responsibility," Loyola College professor of theology Stephen Miles explains that the pope justified the church's traditional stance on sex because it represents a total self-giving on the part of the partners. "Sex for the sake of pleasure is about self-gratification, so it interferes with our efforts to realize our vocation," said Miles.
Humanity's vocation is to give ourselves away according to the pope's writings, he said. Catholicism teaches that sex has two purposes, one of which is to unite with your partner and the other is to have children -- neither excludes pleasure, he adds. "Legitimizing contraception would divide both purposes," said Miles.

Self-Service Catholics
What about Catholics who let their libido loose, not following the church's teachings?

Miles calls those people "cafeteria Catholics" in the sense that they take what they agree with and leave the rest behind.

In his view, the church cannot promote the use of contraception because indirectly it would promote nontraditional sex, even if it may stop the spread of AIDS or other sexual diseases.
"The church has an interest in listening to others but it resolves differences through careful study of stricture," Miles said. Catholics have to be very careful bringing interest group mentality into the church, he added. To him the "Catholics for a Free Choice" point of view lacks religious rigor. "If there is to be an argument for contraception, it has to address the teaching of the church and if it does, then the church would have to change teachings."

O'Gorman seems unfazed by the criticism. She said the throngs of people in Cologne, including nuns, have been quite receptive to discussing issues and taking the promotional stuff they've been handing out. Interestingly enough, condoms aren't among the goodies.

Copyright © 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures

Dispatch from Emily

17 August 2005

Meeting with a Pilgrim from the States
I met with a friend who is a pilgrim here. Prior to the trip, I told him I would be here with World Youth Day 4 All, but I had not told him what we would be doing so he would have to notice us without searching.

When I gave him our postcards he said “oh this is you guys”, having seen our ads in the metro! I am glad to know that even pilgrims that we do not get to speak with on the streets of Cologne (and the crowd increases every day) are still taking notice of our messages. He found my reports of our success with the pilgrims very encouraging for himself as a Catholic.

A few members of WYD4All pose on the steps of the Old Catholic Church.
photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Riding the Metro
Riding the metro at night here is not for the weak heart. As I was trying to exit to make a connection, I almost got trapped on a train by an onrush of French pilgrims, but a kind man on the platform reached through the doors and pulled me out. People on the metro trains happily talk to each other. One girl from Minnesota struck up a conversation. I told her I was with a group from all over the world, and she said she was too—Schoenstatt Girl’s Youth. I gave her my post cards and explained how we care about condoms and stopping AIDS. She took the card and put it in her bag. She then pulled out a hand painted stone from Lake Michigan and a photo of her group’s founder. It was a generous exchange of backgrounds.

I googled this and it is a youth group that exists in Germany US and Spain. Schoenstatt is an apostolic movement. It is so inspiring to meet so many Catholics from all over who care about what we are doing and share in our commitment.

Emily, In Cologne

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How cool is Deutsche Welle? They really seem to get it. They are an international broadcast outfit in Germany, and they are an official reporter of goings-on in Cologne. Great quotes, WYD4All! (But "Rumble"? It's a little "West Side Story" for me...)


Church Critics Ready to Rumble

Catholic reformists bemoan the lack of discussion of controversial issues at WYD. At the youth gathering they have been going on the offensive from day one.

The pilgrims arriving in Cologne on Monday morning were certainly left in no doubt. World Youth Day (WYD) information points at the railway station and throughout the city center were already waiting on the youth from around the globe to provide guidance -- on navigating the city and the events of WYD that is. The city center appears dotted with stages that host the events of WYD, makeshift TV studios were being set up and posters of the new pope were gracing walls and shop windows.

One day before the official start of World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne things seemed to be running smoothly.

Critics on the ground from day one
But at the same time criticism was fermenting in the underground -- literally. In the basement of a luxury hotel some 10 minutes walk from the main station, the "World Youth Day 4 All" (WYD4All) coalition was also kicking off with their first press conference on Monday morning.

The coalition of grassroots organizations bemoans the lack of room the WYD affords to discuss let alone criticize the church's stance on controversial issues like contraception or the role of women.

Strategic focus on specific issues
Their Monday morning press briefing focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and the stance of the Catholic Church on the issue. By banning the use of condoms "our church leaders are putting the world population at risk," said Molly O'Gorman from the Washington-based organization Catholics for a Free Choice which is part of the WYD4All coalition.

Despite a host of matters and general themes on which critics disagree with the Catholic church, O'Gorman insists that the focus on a specific issue such as this can steer a lot more people into action. "It also leaves the Church leaders with very little wiggle room," she added.

More church leaders speaking out
According to Catholics for a Free Choice a number of Catholic bishops around the world -- many from developing nations -- have softened their stance on condom use, including the Indian Catholic Bishop's Conference which has agreed to "provide all information about it" to couples seeking advice.

On a number of issues more and more bishops are coming out of the closet against the established views of the senior leadership including the pope. Molly O'Gorman is convinced that in the medium term this could lead to an internal revolution within the church. And this is backed by pressure from the grassroots: Surveys show that Catholics around the world are defying the official Vatican line in their daily lives.

How to address the crowd
But how do the critics carry their message to the believers attending World Youth Day? WYD 2005 resembles the "Communist World Youth Games," German WYD4All spokesperson Tobias Raschke told the left-leaning newspaper Tageszeitung recently. And just like in those mass events of the Cold War there is no room for the discussion of contentious but highly relevant issues, he said.

Only last week German bishops issued a statement that essentially labeled two of Germany's most prominent church critics personae non gratae at the World Youth Day. But Catholic youth appear to have remained surprisingly quiet in response. Many young people come for the party, admitted Raschke. But then why should they listen to the critics? "We know that young people do feel strongly about many of the issues. All we do is to provide information and the chance to discuss, if they so wish."

It remains to be seen how much headway the critics can make during World Youth Day 2005 in the face of seemingly overwhelming enthusiasm for the visit of the new Pope.

Disclaimer: Deutsche Welle is a media partner of World Youth Day 2005

Author Ranty Islam, DW-WORLD.DE

Condoms prevent HIV/AIDS

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Dispatch from Molly


Today was a great day. The weather was so beautiful, sunny and warm all afternoon. People were on the streets with their country flags, singing songs and dancing. It was great to see so many young people having fun. One moment that really made me chuckle involved a group of Italians, Australians, Germans, and Brazilians singing "What's Going On" by 4 Non-Blondes on the train.

When we got to the metro station, there were two television crews waiting for us. Two more showed up, along with radio and print reporters. This is such a great story and all of the coalition members had a great time talking to the press and the pilgrims. The response was overwhelming, people were taking the postcards and putting our stickers on their bags and t-shirts. At one point, a tram pulled up, all of the people got out and before he pulled out of the station, the driver asked me for a sticker, which I passed to him through the window!

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Two young women came up to talk to us and said, "Thank you for coming! This is where I live, Cologne is my city and I am so happy you are here!" We also met a woman who counsels sex workers. She told us how important condoms are for her work. I stopped into a cafe for a Coke and met a man who worked locally at a health clinic. He saw my shirt and said, "Yes! I am using condoms all the time! I know that good Catholics use condoms, you don't have to tell me!" He took a stack of postcards and stickers for his clients. We also left postcards and stickers on shop counters.

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Tonight, walking around for dinner, we ran into people wearing the stickers. When people see our shirts, they smile and point to the ads in the metro stations. It's amazing how welcoming and enthusiastic everyone is.

The best part of the day was the Youth Hearing. This was an official World Youth Day event, and bishops from around the world were there. Adam was able to stand up and ask a question. He said, "How can you ban condoms when people are dying of AIDS?" The audience applauded him for over a minute and were finally silenced by the moderator. Then, every bishop there endorsed condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Once again, chuch leaders have set themselves apart from the institutional church as honest, caring men who want to see the best for people in the world - Catholic and non-Catholic.

Today, I am proud to be a Catholic.

Molly, USA (also a pilgrim)

Dispatch from Marije

Another great day for WYD4all!

Being at the Catholic World Youth Days is an experience in itself, and I have three things that definitely give me a smile on my face and really make me enjoy being here.

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

First of all, having thousands ofyoung people swirming around a city, colored flags, people singing, laughing and dancing are just a few of the impression you get while looking around.

The second smile comes when you actually realize what a variety in people there are. So many different nationalities, faces, cultures and languages give youa real sense of the immense happening that is going on and the amazing idea that there all here having fun without any kind of problem.

And then the third smile is the biggest smile: there we are handing out postcards, talking about Condoms4Life, in this huge group of different people, and most of them really respond with there own cultural variations. A modest bow from a Japanese boy, a generous laugh by a Rwandan Scout leader, an encouraging one who works with sex workers and a group of giggling Italian girls. And you know what, all of them look at the card, most of them first with amazement and then when they realize what's on it, an expression of agreement or even a shout of support. And that, that is what is making me smile!

Because they know: Condom really save lives!!!!

Marije, (also from the Netherlands and enjoying Catholic World Youth Days)

Dispatch from Anneke

Day 2

Many positive responses to our campaign today. People have seen the adds that are all over the city and they happily take the postcards. I saw a group of pilgrims discussing the cards in the metro: the campaign makes the people talk about condoms and sexuality! Wonderful! And even better: the young Catholics totally believe in using condoms. As we say: sex is sacred and we need to take care of each other!

All photos Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Dag 2

Veel positieve reacties op onye campagne vandaag. Iedereen heeft de posters in de metro gezien en ze nemen onze kaarten en stickers graag aan. Ik zag een groep pelgrims in de metro die over de tekst op de kaarten aan het praten waren: de campagne maakt mensen aan het denken en aan het praten. Heel goed! En nog beter: de jonge katholieken geloven in het gebruiken van condooms. Zoals wij zeggen: seks is iets moois en we moeten voor elkaar zorgen.

photo Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Anneke, the Netherlands (but having a GREAT time in Cologne!)