Written by Sherry
Sunday, 14 February 2010 12:42
Speaking of the Olympics, the Archdiocese of Vancouver is deeply involved in a creative, ecumenical outreach to Olympic visitors from all over the world: More Than Gold.
The archdiocese has contributed a storefront space on the ground floor of its curia offices to the ecumenical “More than Gold” program of radical hospitality.
“We’re in the heart of everything, pretty much,” said Patrick Gillespie of the archdiocese’s office of evangelization. “We can step out of our door and we’re pretty much at the door of BC Place, where the opening ceremonies are going to be.
Incredibly, The Archdiocese of Vancouver, which represents more than 400,000 people, is closing its elementary and secondary schools for two weeks so students will be able to watch TV and volunteer during the Games!
More Than Gold is an ecumenical collaboration of churches in the Vancouver/lower mainland area, the two most prominent of which are the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and many other evangelical groups in a fruitful, if unlikely partnership.
(I say unlikely because, historically, Vancouver has been the most conservative diocese in Canada. I once spent three days as the only woman and lay person with the Fr. Michael Sweeney, the Archbishop, and 83 of his clergy at Whistler, where the Olympic skiing events are being held. 83 celebrants and one member of the congregation. Let's just say that it was clear that some of the guys hadn't spent much time around women. I occasionally felt like an exotic animal on display in a zoo.)
More than Gold will offer "radical hospitality", free homestays, arts and cultural events, prayer, and social justice initiatives. the Vancouver Sun notes: "Some of those same denominations will be holding demonstrations and workshops to raise the profile of the city's homeless during the multi-billion dollar Olympics, as well as draw attention to sex-trade workers whom they are calling victims of "human trafficking."
If some Christian activists have their way, the most popular T-shirt to emerge out of the Olympic Games, which they argue typically places prostitutes in high demand, will be the one reading, "Buying sex is not a sport."
In fact, Canada’s Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter denouncing a dehumanizing crime that, says the United Nations, affects 2.5 million people worldwide.
The Jan. 26 letter, signed by members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, said major sporting events often see “systems put in place to satisfy the demand for paid sex” and “this is likely to be the case during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.”
The letter cites a Senate report that calls the Vancouver Games “a potential flashpoint for human trafficking” and found that the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens saw a 95-per-cent increase in human trafficking victims. (via the Catholic Register)
(A family member, who served as a team doctor at one of these international sports galas told me stories about how some of the athletes expected him to help them procure sex as part of his "duties" (he declined). Since he was working with an African team comprised of a single athlete, they asked him, a 6'8" former basketball player, to march in the parade of athletes with the team. I've seen the picture: an Anglo giant holding the national flag and towering over his diminutive "teammate".)