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Religion is the most powerful force for good in society. Why does the media ignore it?

The first Sunday in June this year was a global day of parades and processions, some publicised, others ignored.

My vote for the most entertaining was Philadelphia’s gay pride march yesterday. The weather was balmy, the sun was shining, the revellers were revelling … Suddenly they pulled up short.

An Unstoppable Movement had met an Irresistible Force – Queers for Palestine blocked their way, chanting “Palestine will live forever! From the sea to the river!”. Some were waving a rainbow flag with “no pride in genocide” painted on it.

There were moments of perplexity as the police separated the two groups. The chants continued with the baffling words “PPP, KKK, IOF they’re all the same!” Purchasing Power Parity? International Order of Oddfellows? Whatever – they’re all in the sin bin with the KKK.

My vote for the best behaved was the annual Israel Day Parade in New York City. Thousands marched down Fifth Avenue to demonstrate their support for Israel and the hostages still held by Hamas. Perhaps because of the heavy security, there were no protesters. Ooops, I forgot the balaclava-clad man waving a sign reading: “Kill hostages now”. I guess it’s not hate speech if they’re not Americans.

Pride and Protest are media magnets, no matter how small the crowd.

There is no internationally-recognised human right for parades to be featured on the evening news. Still, it was odd that the media ignored the event that got my vote as the most counter-cultural parade of the first Sunday of June. It was a procession with 15,000 people and it took place right in the middle of Sydney’s central business district.

Perhaps it wasn’t reported because it didn’t fit into either the Pride or the Protest pigeon-holes that make life so much easier for journalists.

It was a solemn, deeply devout procession led by Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop, Anthony Fisher. Bearing a large gold monstrance containing a consecrated wafer which Catholics believe is literally the body of Christ, the Archbishop walked through the city streets to St Mary’s Cathedral. He was followed by 15,000 people of all ages and backgrounds – Aussies, Kiwis, Lebanese, Pacific Islanders, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, Africans, Europeans, Latin Americans and more – praying and singing hymns.


It concluded with a ceremony on the forecourt in front of the Cathedral and a brief homily from the Archbishop. He told the crowd: “you have just proclaimed to our city the gift of redemption in Christ Jesus. Not through robust argument, clever rhetoric or special effects, but simply by ‘Walking With Christ’ whom you love.”

In a sense, the procession was also a Pride parade, pride in an ancient faith in God, threatened now by a proposed religious discrimination bill. And it was also a Protest march, a protest against moves to undermine expressions of religious faith in the public square.

Belief in the reality of the Eucharist, of Corpus Christi, is unique to the Catholic and Orthodox churches. But you need not be a believer to appreciate that this display of fervour and commitment must have deep, broad and unseen roots in the community. The media tend to report demonstrations whose participants are rather like themselves – smart dudes who care about the important things in life, like LGBTQI+ rights, climate change, and opposing Israel.

But it’s more than likely that there’s a silent majority in Sydney – and elsewhere – which is heart-and-soul committed to faith and family. Journalists and politicians should pay more attention to them than to the latest moral craze. Just because people don’t resort to “robust argument, clever rhetoric or special effects”, their concerns matter.

In the meantime, Catholic leaders have been buoyed up by growing crowds at the annual Corpus Christi procession. If the Vatican signs off on it, it’s possible that Sydney will host an international Eucharistic congress in 2028.

Note to the editors of the Sydney Morning Herald: you’re got Pride and Protest well and truly covered. What about adding a new pigeonhole, Praise?

Are the concerns of religious people being ignored in Australia? Sound off in the comments.  


Michael Cook is editor of Mercator.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Mercator column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.