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.



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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.  

Image credit: the end of Sydney's Eucharistic procession in 2023


Showing 12 reactions

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  • David Page
    commented 2024-06-07 10:00:49 +1000
    This could be of interest here. It is a study of the efficacy of prayer for a group of seriously ill patients. There was no difference. Those who were prayed for without their knowledge had about the same outcome as those who were not prayed for.
  • mrscracker
    This might be of some help:

    Society of Catholic Scientists
    “The Society is an answer to the call of Pope St. John Paul II that “members of the Church who are active scientists” be of service to those who are attempting to “integrate the worlds of science and religion in their own intellectual and spiritual lives.” The Society does this through annual conferences, regional conferences, college chapters, lectures, and other activities, as well as by educational material and articles on its website.

    In its first seven years, SCS has grown to over 2,100 members in many countries. Many hundreds of scientists have attended its conferences, along with theologians, philosophers, and historians. Many thousands, from professors to high school students, have attended its local events"
  • Michael Cook
    commented 2024-06-03 21:32:17 +1000
    If you like the articles, please don’t neglect to forward them to friends and family!
  • mrscracker
    Yes indeed Miss Elva. Edward Jenner was a Christian believer and the 8th of 9 children . His father was an Anglican clergyman.
    I’m so glad to hear you also had a Eucharistic procession at your church. We live in a rural area so there’s fewer people to participate or watch a procession but it was very touching to see vehicles pull over out of respect until the procession passed. One gentleman got out of his truck bowed his head and blessed himself.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-06-03 19:45:04 +1000
    But prayer itself only makes you feel good. Prayer doesn’t make food appear out of think air. It doesn’t make money magically appear in your bank account.
  • Elva Kindler
    commented 2024-06-03 19:44:06 +1000
    :) Mr. Bunyan, plenty of people who pray feed and house others, and are responsible for scientific breakthroughs.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-06-03 19:31:56 +1000
    Ms Kindler, prayer never fed a single person or housed an indigent individual. It certainly didn’t eradicate smallpox.
  • Elva Kindler
    commented 2024-06-03 19:29:56 +1000
    We had a Eucharistic procession yesterday at our church, too! These processions are not nonsense and drivel. We who participate are peaceful and full of love and awe. Adoring the Eucharist reminds us to be good and generous to our neighbors.
  • mrscracker
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    We had two Eucharistic processions locally yesterday and today another larger one that’s going on across the States will pass through our area.
    Those who took part in our local procession carried banners with the Sacred Heart of Jesus .
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-06-03 15:18:19 +1000
    What nonsense and drivel. Religion is the very reason Hamas has power in Palestine.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-03 15:03:20 +1000