Pope Benedict laments the widespread abandonment of religion in Western countries as he starts Easter celebrations at the Vatican. Natural disasters, death and mortality are the themes of this year's Easter messages, with religious leaders promoting a sense of hope despite the recent devastation. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell has focused on the recent natural disasters that have hit Australia, New Zealand and Japan in his annual address. "Our humanity is defined by how we grapple intellectually with the challenge of suffering and evil or refuse to do so; but even more by what we do in response to these catastrophes when they touch us," Cardinal Pell said in his Easter Message on Good Friday.
This week we nudge into Easter once more. To the solemn cycle that recapitulates the last days of Christ's life, from the entry into Jerusalem with Palm Sunday, through the Last Supper on what is known as Maundy or Holy Thursday (because it was when Jesus broke bread and said it was his body), through Good Friday with his passion and death on the cross.
The Gillard government was under heavy pressure last night from the Greens and the opposition to overhaul its failing detention system in the aftermath of the torching of the Villawood detention centre only a month after the Christmas Island riots. The opposition was demanding the protesters be sent to ''the back of the queue'' while the Greens demanded the government speed the processing of asylum seekers to prevent the backlogs causing the violence.
Earlier this month, a documentary called Waiting For Superman had the most limited of releases in Sydney, playing in just one cinema for two weeks. Let's hope it attracts a bigger audience after its DVD release in July. Not only is this account of the troubled US public school system utterly fascinating, it also provides a cautionary tale for Australia.
''Acts of God'', as natural disasters are known in arcane insurance language, ensured Stefan and Erika Swanstrom had a memorable holiday earlier this year. Soon after getting married, the Swedish couple found themselves in Germany amid one of Europe's nastiest snowstorms.
The Archbishop of Canterbury overnight called on the public to give their support to Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day next week. Dr Rowan Williams is the spiritual leader of the Church of England and the man who will be conducting the marriage service April 29. "A marriage is first and foremost about two individuals," Archbishop Williams said. "But no individual exists alone - people come to their weddings with families and friends around them."
The “Statement of Principles” signed by the timber industry, the timber union and environmental organisations late last year is easily the best chance for decades to end Tasmania’s debilitating “forest wars”.
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