Message in season of new direction

NEWCASTLE parish priest Monsignor Allan Hart chose Easter Sunday to commemorate the new Pope and new direction for the Catholic church.

Monsignor Hart told the 750-strong congregation at Sacred Heart Cathedral at Hamilton that Catholics must now follow Pope Francis’s lead and support the poor and marginalised.

‘‘We have to walk with the poorest of the poor. We have to build and restore our faith again in light of the Royal Commission like Christ restored his faith,’’ Monsignor Hart said.

‘‘We must encourage each other to have hope and trust. If we work together and walk together, the church will once gain move forward.’’

Pope Francis has already attracted criticism from some church traditionalists after he washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates, including two young women, at a juvenile detention centre in Rome last week.

It was a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.

Some church leaders such as Monsignor Hart believe the move symbolised that Pope Francis was ready for change.

While Good Friday church services are sombre, recalling the death of Jesus, Easter Sunday services have a more celebratory air marking his victory over death. Both services tend to mark the busiest times of the year with capacity attendances.

Hundreds of Anglican residents attended the morning service at Christ Church Cathedral, which also included messages about new beginnings.

Charlestown-based church God’s House, which has 500 members, opted for a more contemporary service featuring live music and children’s games at Hunter Theatre Broadmeadow.

Monsignor Allan Hart. Picture: Jonathan Carroll