PARIS, France – The Pope’s visit to the French capital Paris went down smoothly on Saturday the 13th of September – with one exception.
The head of the Catholic Church gave a traditional speech at Les Invalides, in the center of the city in front of 250’000 spectators. This was part of his trip to France, where the once powerful French church struggles with a shortage of priests and Sunday mass attendance is below 10 percent according to the news service Reuters.
At the same time though, a group of activists called Act Up-Paris organized a demonstration against the Church’s strict positions regarding the use of condoms. They unfurled a 45 meter (148 feet) long black poster on the famous steps leading up to the Sacré Coeur Church residing high above the roofs of Paris. Their action “La capote c’est la vie” (which could be translated into “condom stands for life”) was meant to denounce the ongoing acceptance of the Catholic condom ban by recalling the fatal consequences of HIV.
UNAIDS estimates that a quarter of all HIV positives are of catholic confession and that the epidemic caused more than 40 million deaths.
It is not the first time Pope Benedict XVI faced demonstrations of that sort, the heaviest being during Sydney’s World Youth Day 08 when around 1,000 protesters marched against the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. Back then protesters greeted the pilgrims with condoms and a chant: “Pope is wrong, put a condom on”.
Picture credits Act Up-Paris