Demonstrators against World Youth Day posted ten alternative commandments opposite the Pope's temporary residence at St Mary's Cathedral, as the pontiff sat inside watching the Stations of the Cross parade on television.
The gesture aimed to emulate Martin Luther, who nailed a document criticising Catholicism to a cathedral door in Germany in 1517. The move sparked the Reformation, resulting in the emergence of Protestantism.
The modern-day commandments were stuck with blu-tak, instead of nails, across the road from the church, as security prevented protest organisers from coming any closer to the Pope's accommodation.
Orchestrated by the Australian National Secular Association, the move followed an earlier protest in which demonstrators gave the commandments and condoms to passing pilgrims.
ANSA's 'new' commandments - found below - call on the church to revise its treatment of women and homosexuals, and to change its stance on condoms in the interests of welfare. They also demand the church take responsibility for sex abuse victims who have suffered at the hands of its priests.
"Federal and State Government paid $160 million to support this event, and they can do it because there is no constitutional separation of church and state at any level," said ANSA director Max Wallace.
Wallace adds that the church is one of Australia's five wealthiest corporations, its largest landholder and largest private employer, with a net income of $15 billion.
"It beggars belief that an organisation of this scale couldn't find $160 million to put down on their own event," he says. "The modus operandi of the church is like any corporation. It privatises profit and socialises cost," he adds.
"What Australians don't know is that most religious organisations that satisfy the tax office's requirements are tax exempt," he said.
Ten commandments for the Twenty-First Century Church
- You shall eliminate all barriers to equality based on sexuality including a woman’s right to choose, women priests and gay marriage.
- You shall not endanger life and welfare through suppression of sexual and reproductive health and shall distribute condoms and other forms of contraception to prevent HIV/AIDS in all parts of the world.
- You shall abolish celibacy as a requirement for priesthood.
- You shall adequately apologise and compensate, on an ongoing basis, all past, present and future victims of sexual, physical and mental abuse by church officials.
- You shall never engage in cover-ups and ensure that all offences are reported to authorities immediately.
- You shall never use the legal system to frustrate genuine litigants by extending cases over many years.
- You shall declare all your financial activities, pay taxes on your substantial income, and all your financial affairs shall be on the public record for scrutiny.
- You shall embrace constitutional separation of church and state and never allow governments to use taxpayers’ money to fund your rituals and religious activities.
- You shall embrace transparency and allow researchers access to all your records and keep no secrets of past activity.
- You shall not lie.