Australian police want to ban protesters from demonstrating outside Cardinal George Pell’s funeral in Sydney
Australian police plan to ask a judge to ban gay rights protesters from demonstrating outside Cardinal George Pell’s funeral in Sydney on Thursday due to public safety concerns.
Pell, who was once considered the Vatican’s third-highest cleric and spent more than a year in prison before his child abuse convictions were overturned in 2020, died in Rome this month at the age of 81.
The staunchly conservative church leader will rest in St Mary’s Cathedral from Wednesday and be buried at the cathedral after a funeral mass the following day.
New South Wales police said on Tuesday they had rejected an application by Sydney-based gay rights group Community Action for Rainbow Rights for a permit to demonstrate outside the cathedral on Thursday due to security concerns .
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He said Police Commissioner Karen Webb will ask the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday to ban the gathering.
“NSW Police recognize and support the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, however, the first priority is always the safety of the wider community,” the police said. police in a statement.
Pell was an outspoken and polarizing figure throughout his church career and continues to divide in his native Australia in death.
The protest group has posted on social media of its intention to move forward with what it calls its “Pell go to Hell!” demonstration.
“We need everyone to come out and protest on Thursday. We can’t let the police get away with denying us our right to protest this fanatic’s funeral!” the group said.
As Archbishop of Melbourne and later Archbishop of Sydney, Pell repeatedly refused to give communion to gay activists wearing rainbow sashes.
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“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, and there are significant consequences that flow from that,” Pell told a St. Mary’s congregation in 2002 after first denying Communion to a Sydney gay activist.
Pell has also been a lightning rod for disagreements over whether the Catholic Church has been properly held accountable for child sexual abuse.
Pell and his supporters believed he was the scapegoat for all the crimes of the Australian Catholic Church’s botched response to clergy sex abuse.
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Protesters plan to tie ribbons in memory of child abuse victims to the cathedral fence on Wednesday as thousands of mourners are expected to gather to view the cardinal’s coffin.
“Ribbons tied to church fences have become a visual symbol of those who have suffered abuse at the hands of the church and a reminder that these crimes go largely unpunished,” activists said.