During the excitement of World Youth Day, Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church in downtown Toronto was holding workshops, panel discussions and other events But these were not your typical World Youth Day events. The church attracted mostly homosexuals and feminists fighting to have their political positions validated in the Catholic Church. They had one thing on their minds: “Challenge the Church.”

They challenged, or more properly opposed, the Catholic church’s teachings on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism, sexuality, and priestly celibacy, and showed themselves to be the total opposite of true Catholicism. They used the papal visit as an opportunity to showcase their own radical, anti-life, anti-family, anti-Catholic church agenda.,

From the outside, Holy Trinity looked perfectly normal – until, that is, one walked up the steps to the front door. There were homosexuals freely expressing their sexual proclivities; the Last Supper painting was depicted with women sitting opposite of Jesus; condoms were kept in a basket for all to see and take at will.

And then there was the literature. Titles included “Catholicism, Homosexuality and Dignity,” “Abortion: Articulating a Moral View,” and a magazine called Conscience, a news journal of pro-abortion Catholic opinions.

One event held early in the week was about “sexuality and spirituality.” Those in attendance played a little game where everyone had the chance to speak with everyone else and find out were they stood on issues surrounding the event’s theme. Guided questions included such gems as, “How do you feel about your sexuality?” “Do you think sexuality and spirituality are connected in any way?” and “Does the church acknowledge us as sexual beings?” The participants could only be described as remarkably candid.

Reproductive rights was also on Challenge the Church’s agenda, but at this workshop, their radical agenda was itself challenged. Four speakers, addressing a group of approximately 40 people on topics such as abortion and birth control methods, faced questions from American pilgrims about 20 minutes into their presentation. The pilgrims, who wandered into the event by accident believing it was an official WYD event, disagreed with the speakers and let them know it. Offended by the speakers’ comments (such as, “If the Church is about love, then it should assist women in situations that could harm them,” and “I say for World Youth Day, they (the Catholic church) put in a bag condoms and information about safe abortion”), two pilgrims took hold of the microphone to voice their concern for the unborn.

“Abortion is wrong any which way you look at it,” said one pro-lifer followed by a roar of applause from the Americans. The panel and the rest of the Catholics for Free Choice were shocked by the pro-life presence and tried to counter, but the Americans would hear none of it and walked out as victors.

In another workshop, “Catholics for a Free Choice” put the church on mock trial on charges of secrecy, hypocrisy, mistaken teachings and suppression of dissent. Of those in attendance, a mere 12 people, 11 raised their arms for a guilty verdict. (The 12th person was an intrepid Interim reporter.)

Although few pilgrims showed up, the dissenters got what they wanted: media coverage. The CBC and other major news sources were at almost every event. While the media often seek alternative voices in news stories, reports on the Challenge the Church event curiously went unchallenged. Although the media may have taken the event seriously, the pilgrims did not. One young American that popped by a workshop briefly told The Interim, “It’s just stupid.”