Australian archbishop condemns racism

The head of the Australian Anglican Church used his Christmas message to condemn the recent racial violence in Sydney.

National Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall has called on "every Australian" to take responsibility for the violence displayed during the Cronulla Beach riots, which began on December 11.

Christmas 2005 was a challenge to the nation "to participate in a new beginning and a new kind of community", Dr Aspinall, the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, said

His midnight service at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane last night challenged the "very way Australians define themselves" as he encouraged the community to get on with people "we don't know, love or like".

Being uncomfortable when faced with people, who are different seems natural "but becomes dangerous if these tensions are allowed to grow", Dr Aspinall told the packed congregation.

"At the same time, no Australian must ever be expected to put up with criminal behaviour and must be given protection and relief by police and the courts," he said.

"Getting along well can begin simply with applying the basic childhood lessons of how to live decently in a community, including self control, of learning where people have come from and what matters to them, of not hitting out, and of sharing and talking to each other."

Such rules support, rather than diminish, the Australian traditions of generosity and a fair go, he said.

"Only when the basic law and order issues are addressed in significant part can community members feel safe enough to get on with the job of getting along," he said.

Dr Aspinall was appointed leader of the Anglican Church in July this year.

He is one of the youngest men to become leader of Australia's four million Anglicans.


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