Australia

Christians urged to 'reject racism and hate speech' in wake of Christchurch attacks

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Australia's church leaders have released their Easter messages, focusing on joy and peace after a difficult year in some parts of the world.

The nation's church leaders have focused on love, joy and peace in the face of hate and grief in their annual Easter messages following "horrendous" attacks close to home.

In light of the New Zealand mosque attacks in March, Deidre Palmer, president of the Uniting Church in Australia, chose to focus on peace and reconciliation in her address.

"In the face of world events like the horrendous attack in Christchurch, where words and acts of hatred and violence have threatened the harmony and peace of our communities, Christ comes to us with a call to love our neighbours, to live in peace and work for a reconciled human community," Dr Palmer said in her Good Friday recorded message.

Flowers at a memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque for victims in the Christchurch terror attack.
Flowers at a memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque for victims in the Christchurch terror attack.
AAP

She also paid tribute to the faith of young Christians living in a world of threats and conflict.

"In the spirit of Christ our young people reject racism and hate speech and embrace Jesus's message of love and inclusion," said Dr Palmer.

Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli said wounds and sorrows were "absorbed into the healed wounds of Jesus".

"Today begins my first sharing in the Easter Season with you as your archbishop," Archbishop Comensoli said, following a tough 12 months that included a terror attack on Bourke Street and the conviction of pedophile George Pell.

Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli said wounds and sorrows were "absorbed into the healed wounds of Jesus".
Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli said wounds and sorrows were "absorbed into the healed wounds of Jesus".
AAP

"I've been looking forward to it, because 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 his Easter joy."

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said Easter was confronting.

"The cross tells the story of suffering humanity," the Catholic archbishop said in his recorded message.

"The tomb, the story of all we have loved and lost. Still, we hope. From cross and tomb we dream of heaven."

The Anglican primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, also sounded a hopeful note in his message.

While all humans know what it is like to fail, "for Christians, no calamity, however unbearable, is the end of the story," as illustrated by Jesus's death, burial and resurrection, Archbishop Freier said in his recorded message.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said Easter was confronting.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said Easter was confronting.
AAP

Reverend John P Wilson, moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, said Jesus's death on the cross was the drawcard for everyone at Easter.

"Mercy, blessing, forgiveness, grace, freedom - it's all there, for all peoples, because it's the cross that draws all people to Christ," Rev Wilson wrote in his message.

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