Australia’s political and religious leaders have delivered their annual Easter messages, each with running themes of inclusivity and compassion.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten both said in their messages that regardless of faith, the Easter long-weekend is a time for Australians to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends.
“It’s also a good time to reflect that our country is the most successful multicultural society in the world and it is mutual respect which binds us together,” Turnbull said.
“We are enriched, not divided, by our diversity of faiths, culture and races.”
Both politicians also drew attention to those who won’t have the opportunity to enjoy time with family over the long weekend.
“It’s important we recognise that not everyone gets to take time off this weekend,” Shorten said.
“Our thoughts are with the men and women of the Australian Defence Force keeping us safe. Our police, firies, paramedics, doctors and nurses -- and everyone who has to work this long weekend -- we thank you.”
Stuart McMillan, president of the Australian Uniting Church, used his Easter message to urge Australians to enter into a national conversation on Indigenous sovereignty.
“A conversation about sovereignty and how it can empower and bring hope to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a crucial conversation for our nation,” he said.
“Sovereignty and what that means for us as a church is an issue we are committed to exploring.”
The key messages of Easter -- kindness, love and compassion -- were reiterated by Australia’s Anglican Leader Dr Philip Freier.
“Human evil abounds, we see evidence of it daily. For many in the world, suffering and deprivation are constant realities," he said.
“This biblical truth…invites us not to lose courage in the face of human cruelty or to lose hope on account of the apparent triumph of evil and despair.”
Sydney Anglican Archbishop, Glenn Davies, spoke about threats to religious freedom in China, in particular the removal of crosses from churches by authorities.
“It is strange that the cross should be feared for its power, because in Jesus’ time a cross meant execution -- it meant failure and death,” he said.
Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop, Denis Hart, urged people to be compassionate and “run forward with open hands” to alleviate the suffering and loneliness of refugees, victims of violence, the abused and all who feel abandoned and lost.
While Philip Wilson, Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, in light of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, offered prayers to the victims of the “senseless violence”.