Australia’s bishops and religious leaders have called on the faithful this Easter to be filled with hope for the future while encouraging Church organisations to continue providing great works of love, care and mercy.
In their 2019 Easter messages, the bishops reflected on local and global issues, including the effects of sexual abuse revelations, the rise of ideologies of hate expressed in violent massacres and the financial and social pressures on families, especially in regions crippled by long-term drought and natural disasters.
They all called for Catholics to draw strength from the Easter message of the Risen Lord and the transformative power of Jesus by using the teachings of Christ to help navigate a path through problems facing our families, communities, the Church and the world.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, in his Easter video address, said every day millions of Australians encountered Christ and the Church through Catholic parishes, schools and universities, hospitals, aged care homes and hospices, in campaigns on behalf of Indigenous people, refugees and victims of modern slavery, and in organisations supporting the needy and homeless.
Archbishop Fisher said all of these works were works of Easter, raising people up, and all were declarations of love, especially for the weak and powerless.
“By these works of mercy, more than our words, will people judge whether we are serious, whether we really believe in the Resurrection, whether Easter is for us and them,” he said.
Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge reflected on the difficulties now facing the world and the Church and the recurring messages of hope in the Old and New Testaments.
“Facing into the darkness of the world and the Church, we too turn to the Cross,” he said.
“Evil is powerful and the darkness is real. But the greater power which raised Jesus from the dead – we call it the love of God – will bring good from evil, light from darkness.
“So when we kindle the new fire at Easter we go to the very heart of biblical religion, finding fresh hope in the midst of what seems to be hopelessness. That’s why even now we will sing the songs of joy. The victory belongs to love.”
Catholic Religious Australia president Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ urged all Catholics to use the days of the Easter Triduum to pause, reflect and ask themselves:
“Where is the God of Easter wanting to break through in my life?”, she asked.
“Each one of us walks this journey of suffering in solidarity with Jesus each time we allow ourselves to be moved by the atrocities occurring around our world,” she wrote in her Easter message.
Sr Monica wrote about this year’s 25th anniversary of the 100 days of genocide in Rwanda and Rwanda’s slow road of forgiveness, reconciliation and rebuilding. She also mentioned Australia’s support for New Zealanders following the Christchurch massacre.
“In these experiences we are challenged to reflect on how fear, hatred and destruction can be such a source of suffering. Such realities engage us in our own fears and hates in both our personal and communal journeys,” she said.
Archbishop Peter Comensoli, in his first Easter message to his Melbourne Archdiocese, described how the risen Jesus’ transfigured wounds brought new hope.
“Today begins my first sharing of the Easter season with you as your Archbishop. We have been walking through loss and grief in the Church here in Melbourne and we are so in need of the Lord, who wants us to share in his Easter joy. Christ is alive and he wants us to be alive,” he said.
Archbishop Comensoli said the Risen Lord would never abandon his people and instead offers his followers the strength to set out on a new path with him.
With thanks to the ACBC.