In his Easter Sunday homily, the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Australia, Anthony Fisher, decried "powerful interests" that attack Christians and try to "exclude them from public life," and added that they want to cast believers as "Public Enemy No. 1."
Speaking in St. Mary's Cathedral before thousands of worshippers, Archbishop Fisher first talked about how the atheist government of the Soviet Union had tried to eradicate religion, using myriad repressive measures, but ultimately failed.
“In recent years, long queues of ex-Communists have sought baptism in Russia," said the archbishop. (Starting at 6:27 in video.)
"But as recent testimony before the Ruddock Inquiry into Protection of Religious Freedom in Australia highlighted," he said, "we cannot take the freedom to hold and practice our beliefs for granted even here in Australia, any more than the Russians could one century ago."
“Powerful interests now seek to marginalize religious believers and beliefs, especially Christian ones, and exclude them from public life," said Archbishop Fisher. "They would end funding to faith-based schools, hospitals and welfare agencies, strip us of charitable status and protections, cast us as ‘Public Enemy No. 1.'"
“We may not always be as free as we are now to evangelize and baptize as Jesus mandated at the first Easter,” he said.
A little later in his sermon, the archbishop noted that even the sacrament of Confession is under attack in Australia.
“This precious sacrament [Confession], too, is threatened today both by neglect and attack,” he said. “But priests will, we know, suffer punishment, even martyrdom, rather than break the seal of Confession."
"For Confession is a privileged encounter between the penitent and God," said the archbishop. "Here the Christian enters the silence and secrecy of the Tomb, to be re-Eastered; and no earthly authority may enter there.”