Victoria church leaders pray for abuse victims

Victorian church leaders have acknowledged victims of abuse and urged the community to open their hearts to others while celebrating Christmas.

Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart says people must remember victims of violence, those abused by clergy and the thousands left devastated by natural disasters, such as in the Philippines.

In his Christmas message he says the community's response to such tragedies must always be of compassion, action and solidarity.

"We are also a church touched by grief, especially when we see innocent people suffer," he said.

"We pray especially for the innocent victims of sexual abuse in the church and acknowledge the courage of those victims who have come forward to speak of their abuse."

Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier urged people to remember the story of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.

"I invite you, this Christmas, to open your hearts and minds to hear his life-giving message afresh," he said.

"The despair, violence and suffering of the world will never overcome this light."

Uniting Church Moderator of the Victoria and Tasmania Synod Dan Wootton said it was a time to reflect.

He said the greatest gift people could give was one of generosity, to stop and listen to the plight of asylum seekers, the injustices against indigenous people, and to understand people of other faiths.

"Now, in this instant, pay attention to God, our steadfast hope, to our own stubborn hope that emerges fresh from turmoil and unrest," he said.

"I urge you to listen ever so quietly."

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