We did it. We brought the message they thought they could ban to the pilgrims of WYD and the people of Madrid –good Catholics use condoms and condoms save lives. It was a great adventure for us all, and an amazing experience that none of us will ever forget.
After the local authorities censored our ads, we beamed them onto walls outside the archbishop’s residence; onto the offices of Publimedia—who accepted and then rejected our ads for buses and bus shelters; and also onto the office of city council member Ana Botella who was reported to be behind the decision to ban the ad. I think they got the message that we were not going to be silenced. Madrilenos, the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who attended the festival and the world certainly noticed.
We were all over the media—local, national and international—and our projections were beamed around the world. We gave away tons of information.
Thank You for Taking a Stand in Madrid. You’re doing a great thing. We can make progress, if we stick to a message of love. Keep things peaceful, and good luck. My prayers go with you. The Church’s oppression of women has to end.
Love and blessings.” —Cindy N
There was an important moment for prochoice politicians across the globe yesterday during the World Youth Day festivities in Madrid. Pope Benedict, on his third visit to the country, made his customary visit to the local head of state and met with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. You may remember that Zapatero has riled the Catholic hierarchy several times since he came to power in because of his position on many social issues. He favors a greater separation between church and state, and on the pope’s last visit, Zapatero caused consternation when he declined to attend an open-air Mass. Since coming to power in 2004, he has pushed through a liberalization of both the abortion and divorce laws as well as laws that permit gay marriage and adoption by gay couples. At the time, the latter was described as “the worst thing to happen to the Catholic Church in 2000 years,” by the Spanish bishops’ conference.
Hi there, World Youth Day 4 All Coalition!
I just wanted to send you all a quick note saying how much I admire you all for doing this. It takes a lot of guts to stand up to the powers that be, especially when you are initially censored from doing so. Best of luck to you as you continue to advocate for the health and safety of Catholics and non-Catholics worldwide.” —Carolyn B
OK it’s 35 degrees Celsius (or more) and not everyone agrees with your message. But day by day you message is getting out to more and more people. Media attention – you’re certainly getting this!
So don’t give up now, go on, make a lasting impression!
Keep up the good work!
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
Last week on a visit to Valencia I watched as crowds of young people from Spain and around the world gathered together, obvious in their bright red pilgrims t-shirts or waving coloured banners. As they sat talking under the trees outside the Cathedral, or guided visitors through the beautiful arched splendour of the Cathedral, which I visited for the first time when I was 20, and as they stood in front of the Holy Grail which is so small but imbued with all that history and legend have given it, I could see their commitment and companionship.
“Condoms save lives” is the message now visible in various places around the center of Madrid. Stickers and posters bearing that slogan, as well as daily projections and street activism, are living proof that the authorities’ attempts to ban the Condoms4Life campaign will not stop us from raising our voices and defending our rights.
Among the numerous flags, banners and throngs of singing pilgrims we can be found—the World Youth Day 4 All coalition. Dressed in our eye-catching red shirts, we circulate in the crowds at key locations in Madrid, reaching out to pilgrims and spreading our message of love, care and respect—that access to condoms and to comprehensive sexual education is a universal human right and a necessity for the well-being of the whole world.
Dear World Youth Day 4 All coalition,
I would like to share with you an article about the lack of freedom of expression in our country after the withdrawal of the campaign for condom use. It’s in Spanish but it is very interesting.
We send all our support from the Spanish Family Planning Federation.
Federación de Planificación Familiar Estatal - FPFE
The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) joins the World Youth Day 4 All Coalition in thanking the Pope for acknowledging that condom use decreases the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STIs. WGNRR emphasizes that all people, regardless of their social location or occupation should have access to comprehensive, safe, and affordable contraceptives that are free from stigma and discrimination. Informed access to safe and affordable contraceptives are one part of the struggle for sexual and reproductive justice. As such, we call on the Pope to recognize and reaffirm the rights of all people to have access to comprehensive maternity care, comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, access to safe, legal and affordable abortion, and access to sexuality education.
Sexual and reproductive health rights are indivisible human rights!” —
Executive Director of Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
Board member, Catholics for Choice
With hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, the World Youth Day 4 All coalition has still managed to grab the spotlight on numerous occasions here in Madrid. It just goes to show that the Condoms4Life message is bigger than a band of dedicated advocates, and it can’t be drowned out by the crowds or censorship.
He tenido la oportunidad de trasmitir mi conocimiento a muchos jóvenes feligreses católicos y he notado que gran parte de ellos están muy de acuerdo con esta campaña, no así muchos sacerdotes ortodoxos que trataron de subestimar mi lucha contra el VIH. Me fue difícil al principio hablar de la campaña a otros jóvenes porque observé que la mayoría eran feligreses que disfrutaban de la venida del papa y no prestaban atención al mensaje que transmitíamos con mucho amor y cariño. Ya casi culmina la semana y al despedirme me llevo la satisfacción más grande de formar parte de esta gran familia que lucha por una causa inclusiva, muy buena la experiencia y espero siempre seguir trabajando de la mano con Catholics for Choice.
International Youth Coalition Seconds Archbishop’s Affirmation of Freedom of Expression
For Immediate Release
18 August 2011
+1 202 986 6093
The World Youth Day 4 All coalition welcomed the remarks from Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo, Spain, who pointed out that the Catholic World Youth Day celebration is taking place in a country where freedom of expression is protected.
Being part of the World Youth Day for All Coalition is not an easy job. Since our very arrival in Madrid for the event of the World Youth Catholic Day 2011, it’s hard not to mix emotions with professionalism. This is so because of the matters we are dealing with – spreading information on condom use in every possible way.
On the second day – Tuesday the 16th, our Coalition kicked off with a press conference. Its topic was on the ban of Catholics for Choice advertisements that were meant to be disseminated in Madrid’s public transport. They were designed to shed light on the fact that condom use can be a moral choice. The interest of the media and the friendly attitude we received only reaffirmed our determination to continue our educational task.
Thanks for the support!
Congratulations to the WYD4all coalition for speaking truth to power in a way-too-hot Madrid. Activists, you proved that you would not allow the authorities to defeat your mission by banning the ads. The media coverage you generated alone proved you can get the word out even when the Vatican’s censorship machine is on high volume.
Thank you for standing in solidarity with Catholics everywhere.
Shout out to our fantastic coalition partners: Advocates for Youth (USA), Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir Nicaragua, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir El Salvador, YouAct—European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Irish Family Planning Association and PONTON (Poland)
—Jon O’Brien, president, Catholics for Choice
Last night, we gathered in Puerta del Sol to engage the pilgrims with our message—that Catholics can and should support condom use as an HIV prevention strategy. Beginning at 10 pm our coalition’s materials appeared as a projection on a building in the square. Many passersby, including pilgrims, saw them and pointed excitedly. Others approached us and engaged in discussions about the images’ content and why we were in Madrid.
One person suggested that we ask the local bishops if they were OK with the ads. I pointed out that the local bishop had called for freedom of speech during World Youth Day. “The archbishop also defended the right of Catholics to participate in an event ‘in which we can all truly say what we want to say.’” We were simply following what the bishops asked us to do!
The press conference yesterday was a huge success. News outlets from all over—including crews from television stations, radio stations, newswires and even newspapers such as Spain’s prominent daily El Pais—were in attendance. Reporters conducted one-on-one interviews with participants Mayllely Juárez from Venezuela’s Mujeres Unidas por la Salud, Rada Elenkova from Bulgaria’s YouAct, Grace Kabuubia from Lungujja Community Health Caring Organization in Uganda, Denise Ryan from the Irish Family Planning Association and Richael O’Hagan from Advocates for Youth in the United States. Check out some of the coverage we’ve gotten thus far.
Use condoms, be a good Catholic
All Catholics talk a lot about being good with other people, to love God above all the things and spread your love for every single alive creature in the earth, so I think the best way to spread this love is taking care of yourself and your partner, and one of the things you can achieve using condoms in every relationship you have (married or not) is take responsibility of love all the people as yourself, no matter what.
Use condoms, and please, be a good catholic for God sake!” —Sergio L.