Same-sex marriages and other social changes have made 2017 an “annus horribilis”, according to Australia’s leading Catholic.
Giving his annual Christmas address, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said that it had been a challenging year for people of faith because Australia had voted to allow same-sex marriage.
Beginning with a reflection on what makes Christmas so special, he quickly moved to condemn those who he said had challenged “Christian conceptions of life and love” by allowing changes to euthanasia laws and permitting same-sex marriages.
“At the end of another year, the need for renewed hope unites us all. Like any year, this one has had its challenges for our world, our country, and each of us individually,” he said.
“For people of faith you might say it’s been an annus horribilis, as our Christian conceptions of life and love have been challenged in the marriage and euthanasia debates; freedom of religion in Australia put in doubt; and shameful crimes and cover-ups in our Church uncovered by the Royal Commission.”
But he ended on what he suggested was a message of hope, discussing an increased interest in Catholicism among young people. “The Christmas story insists there is a star in the dark sky, light amidst the fears and failures. Christmas speaks of new hope,” he said.
Mr Fisher has actively opposed the movement to bring same-sex marriage to Australia, part of his general stance against increased rights for LGBT people. But despite that, the law was passed late in 2017 and the country has already seen its first marriages under the new legislation.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies kept his Christmas message much more simple and less controversial. He wrote it on Twitter for the first time, shrinking it down to fit inside the site’s character limit.
“In short – a baby born in a shed saves the world #canyoubelieveit,” he posted.
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