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Perth archbishop says Easter an "invitation to take God seriously"

Archbishop Barry Hickey said on Sunday that Easter is God's pledge to humanity that the power of the resurrection is available from the risen Lord to all who seek it.

Australians should take time to acknowledge God's presence in their lives, he said.

"He has given us many other signs, before and since, but the resurrection stands supreme as the reality of God's presence among us," Archbishop Hickey (pictured) told the congregation at Perth's St Mary's Cathedral. "The annual celebration of this extraordinary event is an invitation to take God seriously."

"All of the wonderful symbolism of Easter, even though helpful, is empty if we do not acknowledge God's presence," he said.

Australia's religious leaders attributed an increase in numbers attending Easter services to community anxiety because of the tsunami and other world events. The Australian newspaper said that many churches reported a 10 per cent increase in the number at services.

Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson said attendance at St Francis Xavier's cathedral was "really wonderful".

"Often, in the face of disasters, people reflect on their lives and the meaning of life," the archbishop said. The Easter message gives great hope to our lives but also gives the Christian world responsibility to proclaim Christ's resurrection in the way we live in service to our brothers and sisters throughout the world."

Melbourne's inner-city St Francis Catholic Church held 10 services during the day, and for the first time erected a 300-seat marquee with a video link to accommodate the overflow from the 900-seat church.

At St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Archbishop Denis Hart reflected on an Easter visit to Rome last year where Pope John Paul spoke of the importance of nutrition and hydration for those in a vegetative state.

ABC Radio quotes Archbishop Hart's words that, in recent days, he has been particularly moved by the inspiration in adversity of Pope John Paul and American Terri Schiavo.

"These cases will always be difficult and we do pray especially for her family as well as for Terri herself," he said. "But let us not forget that inherent in the dignity of our human nature is the way we treat our oldest and our weakest."

Meanwhile, after six months and $200,000 of painstaking restoration, the stained-glass chancel window at St Mary's Cathedral was unveiled during mass in Hobart on Sunday.

The window was made in 1868 by the English firm John Hardman and Co as a tribute to Hobart's first Catholic bishop Robert Willson. Its five lancets depict the five pivotal moments in Christ's life: the annunciation, nativity, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.

It was removed six months ago for much-needed repairs and restoration. The window was completely dismantled and every one of the thousands of individual pieces of glass was cleaned, repaired or repainted as necessary and reinstalled, the paper reports.

New Zealand's One News reports a contrasting picture over the Tasman, with a pre-Easter poll having revealed that a declining 28% of New Zealanders planned to go to Church at Easter.

"It saddens me of course. But I'm not surprised because the national census year-by-year have indicated that Church affiliation has been diminishing," said Cardinal Tom Williams, who retired last week.

The Cardinal said he expected the drop in Church-going to bottom out and even begin to increase again.

"Sooner or later people (will) realise that we dont live by bread alone; that there's more to life than prestige and possessions and power," says Williams.

Perth archbishop urges Easter reflection (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 27/3/05)
'Anxious' flock seeks the comfort of religion (The Australian 28/3/05)
Donkey leads Melbourne's Easter march (ABC Melbourne 27/3/05)
Church's stained-glass window unveiled (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 28/3/05)
Easter Church-going in decline (One News 25/3/05)

Archbishop's Easter hope for happy ending to our own 'culture of death' (CathNews 24/3/05)
Big jump in numbers at Easter services (CathNews 13/4/05)

Easter under curfew ( 28/3/05)
Larger flocks cheer bishops (Townsville Bulletin 28/3/05)
Churches enjoy higher Easter patronage (ABC Illawarra 28/3/05)
Easter church crowds rise (Herald-Sun 28/3/05)
Westminster: Cardinal's Easter sermon (Independent Catholic News 27/3/05)
Hong Kong: 2,300 baptised over Easter (Independent Catholic News 27/3/05)
Easter in the South: Aceh, few Christians, many volunteers (Missionary Service News Agency 27/3/05)
The radical new challenge of Easter (Sydney Morning Herald 25/3/05)
Hugh Mackay: A seasonal promise of renewal (The Age 25/3/05)
Sermons preach hope in the face of tragedy (The Age 25/3/05)
Expect the spice of life in pulpit messages (The Age 25/3/05)
Following in the footsteps of Jesus (The Age 26/3/05)
A decline in the community of believers (The Age 27/3/05)
Grey days for Camberwell Catholics (The Age 27/3/05)
Easter worshippers take their spirit undiluted (The Age 28/3/05)
Mission lets light shine through (The Mercury 29/3/05)
Christians unite for Easter celebrations (The Mercury 28/3/05)
Jerusalem Patriarch Sounds a Plea for Peace (Zenit 27/3/05)

29 Mar 2005