By John Jalsevac

SYDNEY, Australia, July 30, 2007 ( – World Youth Day ‘08 organizers have said that they will not co-operate with any efforts to disseminate safe-sex information that contradicts Church teachings on extra-marital sexual relations and contraception to WYD participants, reports the Sydney Morning Herald today.

The Herald is reporting the organizers’ stance as a “row” over the safe-sex message, though in the article it is unclear with whom the organizers are having the “row.”

According to the Herald the New South Wales Health Minister is preparing a fact sheet for the event, though a spokesman for the Minister did not state whether or not the “fact sheet” would include information on safe-sex practices, and also said that the Ministry was working closely with WYD 2008.

“At this stage in planning there has been no decision made on the nature of other support required from NSW Health by the organizers,” said a spokesman.

The Herald quotes an unnamed WYD official defending the position of WYD, saying “Organizers of previous World Youth Days testify to the extraordinarily high level of idealism amongst the young people who attend and the extraordinarily low level of indiscretion.”

In comments to a spokesman for WYD 2008 reaffirmed that WYD ‘08 stands firmly by Catholic teaching on sexuality.

“The Church – and therefore WYD – does not promote versions of ‘safe sex’ that presume or support sex outside of marriage,” said the spokesman.  

“It is not the role of the Church – or Church-sponsored activities such as World Youth Day – to promote any contrary messages or mixed messages or give advice on how to minimise the harms of ignoring its messages.” 

  The spokesman concluded, “We are committed to promoting the kind of friendships that are most suited to young people’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.”

In the past WYD events have been used as a platform for Catholic dissidents and other secular groups to “engage” the Church on its age-old teachings on sexuality, and specifically on contraception and abortion. In 2002 in Toronto the dissident group “Catholics for a Free Choice” initiated a campaign to distribute condoms and pertinent information to WYD participants. One of their billboards read “Because the bishops ban condoms, innocent people die.” 

During the WYD event in Cologne, on the other hand, German police had prepared to distribute condoms to WYD participants, as they do at all other large public events. WYD Cologne organizers, however, stopped the police from distributing the condoms. Also in 2005, Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) and the Cologne Lesbian and Gay Day (KLuST), issued a statement giving their demands for “dialogue” with the Pope. “Our goal is to ensure that people whose sexual orientation has been given by God are morally supported by the Catholic Church,” said the group, who indicated they were pushing for a “relaxation” of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

The January edition of the upcoming WYD 2008’s so-called e-pilgrimage, however, dealt with the issue of human sexuality, and reaffirmed the beauty of the entirety of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. That e-pilgrimage took issue with those who would make sexuality a “mere object” that is “both enjoyable and harmless.”

“Eros, reduced to pure ‘sex’, has become a commodity; a mere ‘thing’ to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity,” read the January e-pilgrimage. “This is hardly man’s great ‘yes’ to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless.”


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