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Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, oil on canvas, 1622 (OSV News photo/Bridgeman Images)

In their annual Christmas messages, Australia’s bishops have reminded the faithful that the peace, hope and joy of the Nativity can be an antidote to a world that is marked by war, poverty and despair.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP writes in his message that while “favourite Christmas carols sing of peace on earth and goodwill to all, a promise of hope for our world”, at the close of 2023, “these songs do not seem to match our reality”.

“Instead of peace, we hear daily of war. Instead of goodwill, we witness man’s inhumanity to man. Instead of hope, we see despair, as people worry about war, climate, making ends meet. 

“Jesus’ birth broke through the darkness of that winter night, with a star that shone so brightly, it proclaimed the prince of peace to wise men in a faraway land. It broke through the silence and indifference, with angelic songs of glory to God and peace to people.

“Just as he did 2000 years ago, God wants to bring light into the darkness in your world and your heart. He wants to sing a song of peace into the silence of your pain.”

Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay said Christmas is a “continuous invitation for us to experience God’s peace in our hearts and lives, independently of whatever is happening around us”.

“Without God’s peace in our hearts, there is no peace in the family, and without peace in the family, there is no peace in the society. Without peace in society, there is no peace in countries, and without peace in countries and among nations, there is no peace in the world,” Bishop Tarabay said.

“Peace is the heavenly message to our earth at Christmas, and we are invited to accept it in our hearts and embrace it in our lives. It is not enough that we accept the gift of peace because peace is a choice and a journey that we work to build every day.”

Geraldton Bishop and Broome Apostolic Administrator Michael Morrissey said, “Jesus came into our world encouraging us to leave behind those things that divide, diminish and hinder, and to choose a life filled with hope and joy”.

“No matter how dark things seem, or how difficult things are, an ‘ordinary’ person has the power to choose a gesture of kindness and goodwill over an act of indifference or hostility. Choose to bring joy and hope in that moment and not despair or anger. Even if it can only be for a moment. 

“A simple message of Christmas, which will never be suppressed, is that God’s love is eternal and present to each one of us in all the acts of kindness and the goodwill in our communities, families and friends.”

Read the bishops’ Christmas messages and a message from Catholic Religious Australia below:

Archbishop Patrick O’Regan’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Archbishop Patrick O’Regan’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Bishop Paul Bird’s 2023 Christmas message (written and video)

Bishop Michael McKenna’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Broken Bay
Bishop Anthony Randazzo’s 2023 Christmas message (written and video)

Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Bishop Charles Gauci’s 2023 Christmas message (written and video)
Bishop Charles Gauci’s 2023 Christmas message for children (written and video)

Geraldton and Broome
Bishop Michael Morrissey’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Archbishop Julian Porteous’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Bishop Greg Homeming OCD’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Maitland-Newcastle Diocese
Bishop Michael Kennedy’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Maronite Eparchy
Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli’s 2023 Christmas message (written and video)

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv.’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB’s 2023 Christmas message (written and video)

Bishop Shane Mackinlay’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Bishop Shane Mackinlay’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Bishop Ken Howell’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Bishop Tim Harris’ 2023 Christmas message (written)

Bishop Columba MacBeth Green OPSSE’s 2023 Christmas message (written)
Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE’s 2023 Christmas message (video)

Bishop Brian Mascord’s 2023 Christmas message (written)

Catholic Religious Australia
CRA national council and executive director’s 2023 Christmas message (video)