Wednesday, August 17, 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)