More political leaders give Christ the bum's rush
The baby Jesus failed to rate a mention in Christmas messages issued yesterday by Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Mark Latham.
Prime Minister John Howard used the occasion to remind the nation that "the things which unite us as Australians are infinitely greater and more enduring than the things that divide us".
Mr Howard recognised defence force members stationed in Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, mentioned the strength of the economy and the low unemployment rate, but made no reference to Christ.
Opposition Leader Mark Latham, who also acknowledged the troops and made no religious comment, asked that people give to charities. Mr Latham said he would spend some Christmas time reading to his two sons, because "the greatest gift we can give our children, all year round, is reading aloud".
Victorian Premier Steve Bracks pointed to the state's adherence to water restrictions and the installation of subsidised water-saving devices as proof of community spirit.
However Governor-General Michael Jeffrey began his short message with a reminder that Christmas, "the celebration of the birth of Christ, is a time of hope, peace and goodwill".
CathNews reported yesterday the comment of Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby on the "conscious effort by public figures to avoid mentioning the word 'Christmas'" as a "sad reflection" of an increasingly secular society".
Meanwhile Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart said God came to man in the form of Christ within a human family.
"Christmas this year dawns upon human darkness and uncertainty, frailty and suffering," he said.
"The anguish of refugees seeking welcome; the needs of the many cultures who make up Australia to live in harmony; the spectre of terrorism; the huge human price of the war in Iraq and the rebuilding, the fragility of peace.
Political leaders ignore Christ (The Age 24/12/03)
Prime Minister: 2003 Chritmas Message
Christmas Message from His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC Retd, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia 23/12/03
PC Christmas: Don't mention the 'C' word (CathNews 23/12/03)
24 Dec 2003