Tag Archives: world youth day 2008

How Different My Life Would Have Been If… — Anthony Venn-Brown

Remember my account of the gathering at Pitt Street Uniting Church on the eve of World Youth Week? Now you can read  Anthony Venn-Brown’s talk, which he has just posted on his blog. You may recall I was very impressed at the time.

…It would take too long to explain, but without any real volition on my part, I had a spiritual experience. The God who I thought had rejected me and I’d said I would never have anything to do with for the rest of my life, became a part of my consciousness again. Something shifted dramatically inside me. I knew everything was okay and God was no more concerned about my sexual orientation any more than he was concerned that people have red hair or are left handed. All that really mattered was the way I lived my life. The most overwhelming sense of peace and resolution overwhelmed me. I didn’t hear any voices but somewhere in the deep inner recesses of my being something told me as clearly as this. “Tell your story, it will help many people. Just be completely honest, and don’t worry about a publisher, I’ll organise everything”.

And so here I stand before you today, a gay man of faith. A faith so strong it believes the Pentecostal world in Australia will change their position on homosexuality and welcome gays and lesbians into their churches. There is evidence this is already happening. I believe this change will happen because in my heart I know two things, 1. God will have his way with his church and 2. For the most part Pentecostal people are good people.

I stand before you as a man who is free because he stepped out of the dark closet of shame and guilt and brought his gay self into the light. A man who counts it a privilege to be something he never dreamed of, that is, being a gay ambassador, proudly representing his community in places where homosexuals fear to go. Who would have thought? Certainly not me!…


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YouTube – world youth day – and Sirdan and I at Sunday lunch

More from Surry Hills yesterday.

Sirdan and I have just been watching the reverse process, the events at Randwick now being over.

Neither M nor B came to lunch, as it happens, so the “confrontation” did not eventuate. Sirdan and I had a wonderful lunch at Chinese Whisper, yet more dishes we hadn’t tried before, and then paused at Devonshire Street to watch the passing parade.

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Pope acknowledges the ‘shame’

I for one welcome yesterday’s “sorry” from the Pope, not because it affects me personally, but because it is a good thing to have happened.

IT WAS much longed for and, when it came, Pope Benedict XVI’s apology to victims of clerical abuse took everyone by surprise.

The lines of apology were not included in the text given to journalists before the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral but were added by the pontiff during his homily, to the joy of victims watching around the world.

Before 3400 guests, including cardinals, bishops, Australian seminarians, victims and pilgrims from around the world, he said: “Here, I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country.

“Indeed I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that as their pastor, I too share in their suffering.

“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church’s witness.”

Of course more needs to be done, but this also needed to be done, and now it has been.

I suspect tonight’s Compass will be worth watching, to gain some insight into the views of intelligent Catholics.

On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s World Youth Day visit, Geraldine Doogue in a two-part Compass special examines thorny issues facing the Roman Catholic Church in Australia: the crisis in the priesthood, and the role of women in the church.

Tonight deals with the matter of celibacy, among other things.

Why I did not join the No To Pope demo

My friend norrie did; the amazing and challenging norrie is clearly visible here:


I will probably see norrie in an hour’s time, so I will no doubt hear more about it. And I have participated in such protests in the past, one very memorable example being described very much as it happened here.

When the Reverend Fred Nile and his fundamentalists march into Oxford Street set on a bit of cleansing I am out there with the crowd. I wear my Mardi Gras T-shirt with additions:


Sept. 1961-Sept. 1989

‘Gone where fierce indignation
can lacerate his heart no more.’


Fred has his thousand, harmless-looking folk pushing strollers, mingled love and fear on their faces as they march up Oxford Street.

But we have five, ten thousand voices chanting NO MORE GUILT! NO MORE GUILT!

And my voice is the voice of three, a trinity of love grief and anger, and in me sing J and Luke and I:

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day
And it’s deep in my heart
I do believe
That we shall all be free someday.

And I see his face, a touch side-on, the slightly crooked nose and shy smile, eyes so often fearful, the bursts of anger, the incredible gentleness and my tears choke my singing and a gay man hugs me and says So you’re human after all…

At that time, as you may see, I needed to do that.

Yesterday I had my doubts about the efficacy or wisdom of such forms of protest, and I would not have really wanted to throw condoms at visiting teenagers, even if some of the (presumably) older visitors had need of the advice, as I mentioned in relation to gay saunas, and as this story also notes:  Pilgrims boom Sydney sex trade: “Adult Business Association spokesman Chris Seage said the boom in business had taken brothel owners by surprise.” Geoffrey Chaucer would not have been surprised… 😉 Read the rest of this entry »



Pilgrim watching in Surry Hills

So I just went out to buy one of the lovely fresh breads from The Baker’s Bun in Baptist Street, and on the way back paused in the park up by the Northcott and watched the passing parade.

And what a sight it is, I have to say.

Devonshire Street — maybe 500 metres from where I live — is one of the main pilgrimage routes to Randwick. It’s just a shame I don’t have a camera…

Best music came from a large group of Argentinians. There was another big group from India whose music was interesting too. More flags than I have on my new flag widget.

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Catholic Church sex abuse investigations ‘a joke’ and other WYD reflections

riley Catholic Church sex abuse investigations ‘a joke’ | is a most interesting story, coming as it does not from outside but from inside the Catholic Church, from Father Chris Riley, a kind of living Mary McKillop in my book and as troublesome perhaps as she was in life.

THE Catholic Church should scrap its program to investigate sex abuse within the church because victims have been denied justice, a maverick Sydney priest says.

Father Chris Riley [right], who heads Youth Off The Streets, a Sydney welfare service that assists homeless, drug addicted and abused young people, said the Towards Healing program hurt the church’s credibility and meant victims often did not have their day in court.
He told the Nine Network tonight that any family confronted with sexual abuse should go straight to the police and have the matter dealt with in court.
“Towards Healing, to me, I have to say, is a joke,” he said.
“The perpetrator is the only winner there because often they are not charged, because it (the case) is settled.
“This is obscene, settling those sort of cases behind closed doors,” Father Riley said.
“It should be out in the court, and then if they (victims) want to deal with the church, we then do that after the person is … found guilty, and my position is, jailed for a long time.
“Then, if they want to go to the church, let’s heal them then, but get justice first.”


Visit Youth Off The Streets via the logo on the left.


Last night’s Q&A on ABC1 featured “former Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, author, journalist and critic of the Howard government, David Marr, columnist, Angela Shanahan and rising star of Young Labor, Rose Jackson.” Inevitably it became something of a forum on faith, politics, and reason. I won’t bother to go into it much here, but do commend you visit the program and even watch it if you can. I must say I have never actually read Angela Shanahan, and don’t think I will after her performance last night. I also found Alexander Downer’s attitude to the church quite puzzling, though it is not an uncommon position. He is clearly uncomfortable with theological honesty.

David Marr’s passionate response to Angela Shanahan’s parroting of traditional dogma on GLBT people certainly scored with me, even if I do worry that his somewhat patrician delivery would alienate quite a few punters; still, he can’t help being in his own way just as “posh” as Downer. Lindsay Tanner was good; Rose Jackson embarrassingly got her Pavlovs and pavlovas mixed up and will, I hope, outgrow her school debating style.

I should add that so far as my own church is concerned David Marr would have expressed most nearly what we believe.

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Posted by on July 18, 2008 in Australia, Christianity, faith, faith and philosophy, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, generational change, humanity, inspiration, interfaith, M, politics, religion, right wing politics, South Sydney Uniting Church, TV



Brightens up the city a bit, doesn’t it?

That’s what the Lebanese pharmacist said just now down in Elizabeth Street as another crocodile of Neocatechumenal pilgrims, from Florida this time, went singing their way down to the city.

And indeed it does.

Mind you, down in Chinatown Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop was quite empty. “What’s this?” I asked. “A pilgrim-free zone?” Perhaps, I wondered (but not aloud), they had heard of GJ’s connection with Hillsong?
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Posted by on July 17, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Christianity, events, Surry Hills



Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

chaucer Chaucer certainly understood pilgrims.

Here bygynneth

the Book

of the tales

of Caunterbury.



Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open eye-

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Bifil that in that seson, on a day,

In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage

To Caunterbury, with ful devout corage,

At nyght were come into that hostelrye

Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye

Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle

In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,

That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.

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Posted by on July 17, 2008 in Christianity, events, faith, poets and poetry, religion