Cairns Bishop James Foley says Catholic protesters at an interfaith event were encouraging “ignorance and bigotry”. Source: Cairns Post.
The protesters, led by Gary O’Brien, gathered outside St Monica’s Cathedral on Monday night during the “Interfaith, Multicultural Celebration for Peace and Harmony”.
Mr O’Brien said the 15-person protest, which he called a peaceful gathering, was arranged because Buddhist monks were inside the Abbott St cathedral.
“I didn’t like the idea of it. I thought it was sacrilegious,” he said.
“My house got broken into once, and it’s like that. It feels like it’s still your house, but it’s not quite the same anymore. We would hate for this to happen again. It’s a very unpleasant thing.”
But Bishop James Foley said the protesters were “clearly acting against the Church’s teachings”.
“I’m concerned about what is influencing these people. I find it very disturbing when people choose to not follow the Church’s teaching,” he said. “There has never been a greater need for people with different faiths to come together.”
Bishop Foley said the event, which included Buddhist and Islamic attendees, had been planned long before the Christchurch or Sri Lankan attacks. The bishop said he’d be willing to make them a regular affair.
“We have very fine classical music concerts in the cathedral, and Anzac Day events. It’s the largest worship space in town, and I’m happy for it to be used by other religious groups,” he said.
“When the stained glass creation windows were made we had many donations from the wider community, so it’s a building that belongs to everybody, and that’s what cathedrals always have been.”
Mr O’Brien told the Cairns Post he would hold another protest if more interfaith events were scheduled at St Monica’s Cathedral.