Easter Sunday: Thousands gather for church services as leaders spread message of peace

Worshippers attend a Catholic church service at St Mary's Cathedral in Hobart.

Australians have gathered across the country for Easter Sunday morning church services as leaders reflected on the state of the world and spread messages of peace and hope.

Thousands of worshippers attended services in each state to mark the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead.

The Prime Minister and his wife started Easter Sunday with a mid-morning mass at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in his electorate of Wentworth, in eastern Sydney.

Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull were greeted by parish priest Monsignor Tony Doherty, joining other parishioners for the service.

PHOTO: Archbishop Julian Porteous holds the service at St Mary's Cathedral in Hobart. (ABC News: Alex Blucher)

In Melbourne, federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his family were among the congregation that filled St Paul's Cathedral to witness the Easter religious ceremony.

Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier told worshippers that despite ongoing violence and suffering in the world, the Easter story was one of hope for the future.

"There are many heavy things that seize our attention — human cruelty to others, the misery of the world's refugee crisis, the grinding poverty of many, to name just a few," Dr Freier said.

"And if you've come here today weighed down by one, or perhaps even many things, let the resurrection power of God change your life and give you peace."

In Queensland, the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane reflected on the meaning of Easter Sunday in times of "darkness".

"There's been a lot of focus on domestic violence, there's been in the last couple of weeks a lot on child abuse in the church, but also in Indigenous communities, so people don't have to look very hard to find darkness," Archbishop Phillip Aspinall said at St John's Cathedral.

"The joy of Easter Day is that the resurrection vindicates a life of love and a life of peace over and above the worst that the world can do.

"So when we're tempted to strike out in anger or to retaliate violently, to violence, Easter says to us 'no, no, no, there's a better way'."

At an Easter service in the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary's in Perth, Monsignor Michael Keating acknowledged the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and ongoing unrest in the Middle East.

Monsignor Keating ended his address with a simple message to get parishioners through the remainder of the long weekend.

"Drive safely, don't drive tired and may both our football teams win," he said.

Almost 300 worshippers gathered at St David's for the mid-morning Anglican service in Hobart and the same number attending the St Mary's cathedral in Hobart.

Australian Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan released their 2016 Easter message on Good Friday, appealing for a serious national conversation on Indigenous sovereignty.

"A conversation about sovereignty and how it can empower and bring hope to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a crucial conversation for our nation," Mr McMillan said.

Christians fill Melbourne's St Paul's Cathedral for Easter Sunday services.

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