Good Friday is a Holy Day for Christians. Our community recognises its importance by observing it as a public holiday, writes Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.
A public holiday is a privileged and powerful mark of respect which honours all that the death of Christ signifies: sacrifice, faithfulness and the giving of self in love. It is a way to focus on these values, as an important part of our Australian culture.
Australian Rules Football is also an historic and important part of Melbourne's culture. However, a proposal to schedule a game of football on Good Friday would fail to fully consider the spiritual needs of our community including the players, coaches, staff and volunteers of the AFL.
It would take away that time and space which is not only needed by Christians but desired by all people to reflect and ponder on key issues about what it means to be human.
In that sense, keeping Good Friday as a public holiday free from obligations or distractions is a symbolic acknowledgment of our need for time and space to enrich our lives with reflection, depth, and quietness.
It's not just about the three o'clock ceremony. It is about the day. From our awakening to the end of the day, it is the day Christians remember that Jesus Christ suffered and died for us so that we might know and enjoy the love of God for all eternity. It provides a window into values that are not controlled by consumerism, money-making or busy-ness.
Indeed, we live in a multi-faith society. This diversity needs not simply to be acknowledged, but also positively respected.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne therefore urges the AFL to continue to show the leadership and discernment they have in the past by not scheduling a football match on Good Friday and so preserve it as a day unique in our public calendar.
Archbishop Hart Reflects on Good Friday (ACBC Media Blog)