Restrictions on Pope protesters lifted by Australian court

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A ban on anti-papal protests in Australia has been lifted by the country’s Federal Court.

NoToPope, a coalition of LGBT, atheist and religious groups, was able to protest at World Youth Day (WYD) in Syndey, which started on Tuesday and ends on Sunday.

The ban had been in place because of fears of clashes between protesters and Catholics.

Denounced as against the principles of free speech, the court lifted the ban so peaceful protests could take place.

The court said the ban, “should not be interpreted as conferring powers that are repugnant to fundamental rights and freedoms at common law in the absence of clear authority from Parliament”.

A spokesman for NoToPope was critical of the Catholic leader, branding him “homophobic.”

Rachel Evans said the Pope, “condemns same-sex marriage, and also condemns millions of people to AIDS via his world-wide anti-condom policy.”

The group has exercised the right to protest by handing out free condoms and leaflets at WYD.

WYD, or “Catholic Woodstock” as it was being dubbed, was organised by the Catholic Church to encourage young people to “celebrate their faith around a particular theme.”

During his speech to the 150,000 strong congregation at the WYD march in Moore Park, Sydney earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI issued at ferocious attack on pop culture, blaming it for social degradation and global warming.

“I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation explain that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely entertainment?” he said.

After pilgrims took Mass they celebrated to a selection of pop classics, including Sebastian’s Elevator Love, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to You and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which were played over loudspeakers.

The fact that O’Connor has declared herself a priest after being ordained by a breakaway sect of the Roman Catholic Church did not seem to dent the enthusiasm for her music.

In his speech to the gathered youth the Pope attacked consumerism and blamed it for global warming.

“There are scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption,” the Pope said.

WYD has been marred by reports of pilgrims suffering from the flu and gastroenteritis.

Control measures have been implemented at the sites where illness was reported by the New South Wales health service.