Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
22 Dec 2017

What's so special about Christmas? Special enough that many who aren't churchgoers or even Christians think it's a special time, and join in the carols, the parties, maybe even come to church? For Christians, it marks the beginning of their history, of a new story for humanity and for each one of us, the story of salvation through God-made-a-baby. But even those who see Jesus just as a great teacher or model recognise His birth as the start of something different. Words like joy, peace, above all hope, come to many people's minds and mouths at this time of year.

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. 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 the Christmas story insists there is a star in the dark sky, light amidst the fears and failures. Christmas speaks of new hope.

In Sydney we had a glimpse of that hope on the faces of tens of thousands of young people who recently celebrated the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. We look forward to similar scenes throughout this year that marks 10 years since World Youth Day in Sydney. The throng of young people standing up for faith and ideals says to us that whatever the past failures, we can have hope for ourselves, our families, our Church, our nation, our world. Our young people are not naïve about the shames in our past or the trials in our future. But they want to be part of the answer to both. They are generously responding to the call to be priests and prophets, servant-leaders and saints, the spiritual heroes we need for our times. Like the Christmas babe, our idealistic young people give us all hope for the future.

God bless you all, and may that newborn Baby bring joy, peace and especially hope to you this Christmas.

Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP
Archbishop of Sydney