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Catholic World News News Feature

Australian Catholic, Anglican dioceses join in "Earth Hour" covenant April 04, 2008

Two Australian Catholic dioceses have joined with an Anglican diocese in an "ecumenical covenant" that was compared by participants with an "Earth Hour" observance.

At an April 3 ceremony in Christ Church (Anglican) cathedral, the Anglican bishops of Newcastle, joined with the Catholic bishops of Maitland-Newcastle and Broken Bay and with aboriginal tribal elders to pray over a font of water. The water was then sprinkled over the congregation of 1,000 people.

"The congregation was called to prayer by the sound of the didgeridoo, followed by a smoking ceremony," read a report from the Maitland-Newscastle diocese. It went on to say that the April 3 ceremony combined "the reconciling elements of water and fire within Aboriginal culture and the centrality and commonality of baptism within the Anglican and Catholic traditions."

Sister Jenny Gerathy was the preacher for the evening's liturgical service. Calling it a "joyful and historic occasion," the Dominican nun encouraged Catholics, Anglicans, and other participants in the ceremony to "let go of the wounds of the past." "The Church is changing," said Sister Gerathy. "We are the Church; we are the change."

She concluded her remarks with an invocation: "Earth hour! Church hour! Now is the hour!"

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