Friday, August 19, 2005

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.