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Sympathy and prayers for the Sydney siege


Jesus' reign is one of "justice and goodness" and not of terror, says Archbishop Costelloe

Sympathy and prayers extended to all affected by Sydney siege

The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Archbishop of Melbourne, Archbishop Denis Hart, extends the deepest sympathy and prayers of the Catholic Church in Australia to all people affected by the siege in Martin Place, Sydney.

“We pray for all who were held hostage during the siege, especially those who tragically lost their lives. May the surviving hostages quickly heal and find new peace in their lives.

“We unite in prayer in support of the families and friends who are today grieving the loss of their loved ones. We thank and pray for the men and women of the police and emergency services who selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way during this tragic event to save the lives of fellow Australians.

“We also thank and pray for medical staff and community leaders who gave so willingly, patiently and courageously to manage the siege and bring it to the best possible conclusion.”

Archbishop Hart expresses his faith that all Australians will be as one in condemning this tragic event, and that they will join together as people of goodwill to support each other.

“As we prepare to celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us pursue enduring peace and understanding. Affected as we are by such awful loss and hurt to our fellow Australians, let us reach out with the power of love to bring peace, healing and goodwill to all.”

In a series of Christmas messages, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth has also spoken about the recent events in Martin Place.

“I am sure that, like me, you are deeply moved and concerned about the recent events in Sydney’s Martin Place. Our thoughts and prayers are first with those who have lost their lives and especially those left to grieve.

“Today, we often hear the phrase “reign of terror” bandied about in the news and are told that we too in our isolated pocket of the world are targets for extremists.

“To be caught in a reign of terror with no escape route can only give birth to despair, and despair it is said makes the heart sick. Is this all we can aspire to? I believe not.

“The Christmas story brings us a different type of news, a good news brimming with hope that is totally opposed to terror where people are set against each another.

“Eight centuries before it occurred, a prophet called Isaiah spoke about Jesus’ birth. He said that Jesus’ life would usher in a reign of justice and goodness that would never end. Isaiah stated that Jesus’ reign would be one of servanthood and endless peace.

“No Christmas is ever the same. Each time we celebrate this great feast, God invites us to open our hearts to receive the fresh outpouring of peace that we each need at this unique time in history. The person of Jesus is that peace we long for and he invites us not to be afraid but to open our hearts to him.

“#illridewithyou, the hashtag born out of one Australian’s commitment to another to move beyond division, judgment and intolerance, was a deliberate action to build true community so that confidence, not fear, could reign.

““I’ll ride with you” is an invitation not only that we might extend to each other, but one that Jesus Christ is offering to us again this Christmas.”