The new laws were brought in to prevent criticism of or annoyance to Catholics – effectively gagging people from openly criticising – during the World Youth Day in Sydney, which Pope Ratzinger will be attending. This is being held from 15 to 20 July.
Protesters can be fined up to A$5,500 for causing annoyance or inconvenience to Youth Day participants, says Ekklesia, which continues:
The Edmund Rice Centre, an Australian Catholic advocacy organisation, claimed that the laws introduced in New South Wales to restrict protests are contrary to Catholic traditions of social justice. "These laws significantly dampen our right to freedom of speech and to demonstrate inside or outside the church," a spokesperson for the centre, John Sweeney, told Ecumenical News International on 4 July.
But the authorities may have their work cut out, since there seems to be a lively trade in anti-Pope materials, including T-shirts such as the one above. Who's going to spend all that money to make an anti-Pope fashion statement, and then not turn up to the party?