Thousands march against the Pope in London


Thousands of protesters opposed to Pope Benedict XVI and his state visit to Britain marched through London on Saturday, slamming the Church over sex abuse, gay rights and a range of other issues. A coalition of demonstrators united under the "Protest the Pope" banner started marching at the edge of Hyde Park, where the pontiff was to later hold an open-air prayer vigil for an estimated 80,000 Roman Catholic victims.

An early police estimate said up to 3,000 people were at the rally, while organisers claimed up to 10,000 took part. It is the biggest demonstration during the pope's four-day state visit to Britain. With drums and whistles sounding, demonstrators marched through central London to the Downing Street residence of Prime Minister David Cameron. Some were dressed in priest outfits, while others blew up condoms into balloons and one woman wore blown-up condoms as earrings.

Many protesters wore homemade pink mitres -- the pope's hat -- bearing slogans condemning his stance on human rights and child abuse by Catholic priests. They chanted "Shame on the pope" and "Protect the children, not the pope". "The Protest the Pope demonstration in London was the world's biggest demonstration against any Pope for many, many years," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who helped coordinate the 'Nope Pope' march and rally in London. Adding, "Our thanks to everyone who joined the march. We made a difference.

The protest was reported worldwide, which helped expose the Pope's sexist, homophobic and reactionary dogmas to hundreds of millions of people. In 2001, the previous Pope caused controversy by beautifying 233 allies of the Fascist dictatorship under Franco during the Spanish revolution. None of those beatified were loyal to the republic or the revolution. The German born Pope was a member of Hitler Youth in his youth. Throughout its history the Catholic Church has often acted as the guardian of right-wing military dictatorships and the status-quo based on the exploitation and oppression of the majority by the minority.

WORDS:Sean Matthews