Just before Lent, the season of preparation for Easter began on Ash Wednesday, all of us received the unexpected news that Pope Benedict had resigned. Therefore for two weeks the Catholic world didn't have a Pope -- no Bishop of Rome, no Successor to St Peter. The situation returned to normal when the Cardinals, on Wednesday, 13 March elected Cardinal George Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the new successor of St. Peter. He took the name of Francis, after St Francis of Assisi probably the best known of our saints in the other Christian communities.
In his wonderful and simple first sermon as Pope in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Father laid out an Easter message for us all. All followers of Christ are called to walk with Jesus, to move forward in Christian hope which isn't the same as shallow, artificial optimism. We have the Good News that God is interested in each one of us - sensitive to our problems, and sufferings and encouraging us to struggle regularly towards the Eternal Rewards of Heaven.
Pope Francis also told us that we need to build on these foundations at all times, especially in Lent through regular prayer and service, through our acts of self control and penance because the moral struggle between good and evil - a clash of the two kingdoms - is central to progress. The Holy Father told us that if Christians don't follow Jesus they are building in vain -- sand castles, following the worldliness of the devil.
And finally Pope Francis called all of us, especially at Easter to bear witness to the victory of the crucified and risen Christ certainly in our conversations and through official teaching, but especially through our care for one another, through the services offered by our huge range of communities and organisations. Deeds are more important than words. Christ is risen, and the victory over evil will one day be complete.
Once again the Easter message comes from Francis of Assisi - peace and goodness; especially to those who are suffering, to those wounded by Catholic Church members, to the sick, the depressed, the bereaved, those experiencing misfortune. Christ asks us to announce the peace of Easter to each and everyone.
So Happy Easter and Easter Peace. George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney