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The Catholic Church is urging its parishoners to vote

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, July 21st, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: abortion, Conservation, crime, Deep stuff, democratic participation, election 2017, Environment, Ethics, families, housing, human rights, Left, Maori Issues, Politics, poverty, prisons, racism, religion, sustainability - Tags:

The following is a pamphlet that the Bishops of the Catholic Church in New Zealand is delivering to its parishioners.  Looks like the Church is getting political.  Good on it.

Following is the text of the pamphlet.

“Nothing else will change the world but people who fight for justice and human dignity. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes…”


Step out and Vote
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ 2017 Election Statement
Ki ō tātou tuākana, tēina i roto i te whakapono, ā, ki ō tātou hoa kirirarau o Aotearoa

Politics is never far from conversations in family homes and with colleagues at work.

Our fast approaching election this September comes against a backdrop of a rapidly changing world. Once we divided the world into democracies and dictatorships. Today that neat division no longer exists. Terrorism, cronyism, corruption, fake news, WikiLeaks and the galloping gap between the rich and the poor all undermine people’s faith in politics and traditional political parties.

How can we make a difference? Expectations, aspirations and a desire to help shape our community all stir within us the duty to exercise our democratic right and vote. In every election there are those who vote for the first time in their life. Together with all of us, you face a complex and precious decision.

Faith shapes our world view. Faith guides our political choices. Faith demands that we take the duty to vote very seriously. Your vote is not just a vote for you. Your vote is a vote for New Zealand. This means that we expect of our politicians and our political parties a vision for the home we call Aotearoa. Indeed, in scripture we read “where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

As Bishops, we sat down recently and shared ideas about what kind of questions and policies shape the vision we might have for New Zealand. We did so aware of our leadership role and also aware that deep in every human heart there is a desire to contribute to the building of a nation in which all citizens – whānau and individuals alike – are valued and given equal opportunities to flourish.

The mix of ideals and realities we grappled with included the following:

We hope for positive, pro-life attitudes and policies. Love and care for the unborn, the vulnerable, the disabled, the elderly and the different, are marks of a compassionate society, as are well-funded palliative care services.

Legalisation of assisted suicide undermines trust in the medical profession and puts vulnerable groups in our society at risk.

We embrace the bicultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand. We ourselves are growing in our understanding that this is much more than questions of language. Bicultural partnerships and participation enrich any group because they anticipate an expansion of understanding of the fundamental elements of human society, including land, people and purpose. Every absence of bicultural partnership is an impoverishment of our society.

We welcome the completion of iwi treaty claims and rejoice in the renewed mana that these agreements unleash.

We delight in the cultural diversity of contemporary New Zealand and we wish to welcome to our shores not only those people whose skills are deemed to be of immediate benefit to our economy, but also those for whom their homeland has become unsafe, including refugees and asylum seekers.

We envisage a nation that strives to welcome and appreciate migrants as an integral part of our nation.

We share the angst that migrant families experience when changes in policy deem them no longer wanted, due to perceived shifts in the labour needs of our economy.

We want Kiwi children and mokopuna to grow up in a safe society. Moves to legalise ‘soft’ drugs and other substances – which wreak havoc in particular sectors of our society – are a deeply cynical and cheap way of side-lining a complex social ill that needs to be addressed creatively and resolutely.

Drugs such as ‘P’ are rife in some areas, destroying individuals and family life. This curse needs to be tackled full on.

Care for our common home, Mother Earth is a centre stage global challenge. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ has become an authoritative reference point in this quest.

New Zealand’s export-based economy has started to show its environmental limits, with increased greenhouse gas emissions, di use freshwater pollution and threats to biodiversity. Are we, as a nation, really pulling our weight on climate change when we plan to meet our commitments in this regard by simply buying carbon credits from other countries?

We appreciate the work ethic of so many of our fellow citizens.

We desire a tax structure that is fair to low income earners and respects the contributions of all workers to our society. In a globalised economy we recognise New Zealand has much to offer in the upholding of sound business and investment ethics.

The wellbeing of all New Zealanders is of concern to everyone.

Mental health services and facilities are a telling measure of a society’s attitude to its vulnerable. Years of inadequate funding is resulting in much stress and angst in families, and our suicide rates bring shame upon us as a nation. We advocate a thorough review and strengthening of the mental health sector as part of an integrated health system.

We support efforts to bring about affordable housing.

Excessive rents and inflated house prices are leaving families homeless and young couples despondent. Without effective policies to support regional and provincial economic development and consequent employment we miss opportunities to alleviate this problem, which is worst in our biggest cities.

We are deeply disturbed by the growing prison population in New Zealand. It is a national disgrace. Crime rates have in fact fallen in New Zealand. What is driving the increase in prison numbers is changes to bail law, sentencing and parole. We want our communities to be safe. We want deterrents to be positive. Pathways of care and guidance, of participation and belonging,of work and purpose are what our at-risk young need, not corridors of bars and negative mentors.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, these observations are just part of a heartfelt korero we had as brothers in faith around our Bishops’ table. We know your homes and hostels and flats too will resonate with vision and political talk as the coming months unfold.

We urge you all to pray about, reflect on, discuss and debate what kind of society New Zealand can be in the eyes of God. Faith has a vital role in the public forum. Stand up, uphold the common good of our nation, choose wisely, and your vote will be a blessing for our nation.

Bishop Patrick Dunn
Bishop of Auckland President, NZCBC
Cardinal John Dew
Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington Vice-President, NZCBC
Bishop Charles Drennan
Bishop of Palmerston North Secretary, NZCBC
Bishop Colin Campbell
Bishop of Dunedin
Bishop Steve Lowe
Bishop of Hamilton
Fr Rick Loughnan
Diocesan Administrator Christchurch Diocese
New Zealand Cathloic Bishops Conference

29 comments on “The Catholic Church is urging its parishoners to vote ”

  1. And yet just as a reminder before anyone starts thinking about the National party as the only viable option simply because they like to call themselves ‘conservatives’…

    We all know in the USA that the neo cons have a large conservative base. Many of which are mainstream christian denominations. And while it is true that the Apostle Paul advocated ‘ working with your hands so that none of you become a burden to others ‘ etc…

    He also advocated to ‘ visit those in prison , care for the widows, share your belongings with one another ‘ …

    Jesus himself reserved his harshest criticisms for those in authority in Israel , – the Pharisee’s , calling them hypocrites and a ‘ den of vipers ‘… and as he healed the sick , speaking in parables often about the poor and the ostracized , and Gods love for them…

    Just because a political party try to say they are ‘conservative’ does not automatically mean they line up at all with christian values. This is why so many ‘ christian socialists ‘ backed Michael Joseph Savage ,.. because his social programs lined up best with those values.

    Choose wisely this election because this election is a pivotal crossroads for all of us.

  2. JanM 2

    Interesting – I remember that in 1972 a number of churches made quite open pleas to their congregation to vote for Norman Kirk and Labour – this is the first time since I’m aware of that happening

    • Norfolk Traveller 2.1

      I don’t see this as a call to vote for any particular party, just a call to vote. I’m not a Catholic, but this is beautifully written and very timely.

      • WILD KATIPO 2.1.1

        Yes. It is a call to vote essentially , and historically the division between church and state is taken seriously in a democracy, in both Protestant and Catholic churches ,… generally church leaders are loathe to start becoming politically partisan. Its generally not in their job brief.

        • Norfolk Traveller

          And neither should it be.

          • JanM

            I don’t think that anyone stood up in a pulpit and said “vote Labour” any more than they’re doing now, but if you have a social conscience and you’re deeply concerned about the mess we’re in as a society it is pretty obvious what the encouragement is all for.
            My father was a Methodist minister in the 70s and there was a similar feeling of urgency about what was happening to us – getting involved in politics at any level is not something a minister/priest does lightly

            • Norfolk Traveller

              It isn’t something they should do at all. I am a committed Christian, but I get very concerned when see Christian leaders actively entering politics. I’m not referring to speaking into the issues, they should do that, I’m talking about setting up political parties that claim to be Christian. We live in a society where the separation of Church and state keeps us safe from the excesses of the theocracies bedeviled by, for example, Islam. Long may that continue.

  3. “New Zealand’s export-based economy has started to show its environmental limits, with increased greenhouse gas emissions, di use freshwater pollution and threats to biodiversity. Are we, as a nation, really pulling our weight on climate change when we plan to meet our commitments in this regard by simply buying carbon credits from other countries?”

    Are we? That’s not a very strong position from the church, a tentative, “are we”, when it’s plain that we are not. Bill will tell his people, “We are” and they’ll feel relieved,

    • McFlock 3.1

      The church is one of those organisations which is habitually precise and quiet about politics, for historical as well as diplomatic reasons.

      It’s actually a pretty strong position for the church to comment so specifically on NZ political issues. It only looks mellow when you compare it with bombasts like Trotter. but then Trotter doesn’t have 500,000 NZers thinking he’s got a priority phone line to the creator of the universe (regardless of his own position on the matter lol).

      As someone else said, it might be 40-odd years since the last time the church made such a strong statement in NZ. That’s got to count for something.

  4. DoublePlusGood 4

    “Love and care for the unborn, the vulnerable, the disabled, the elderly and the different, are marks of a compassionate society”

    Wow – that’s some weapons-grade hypocrisy right there, given their treatment of the vulnerable and different particularly.

    • Ad 4.1

      You’re not voting on church policy, you’re voting on electoral policy.

      The Bishops opinions will only matter to those already disposed to them.

      • marty mars 4.1.1

        what about the hypocrisy – is that just ignored?

        • adam

          No, like all great theological arguments – they take time to resolve.

          So the base position is compassion and love. From there, some divergence of opinion. Look at Ad and Myself – we disagree with the church on somethings, and disagree with each other on somethings, is that hypocrisy? I fully respect Ad, and like hearing his position, even if I give him stick, and him me.

          If you add the second part of the statement

          “Legalisation of assisted suicide undermines trust in the medical profession and puts vulnerable groups in our society at risk.”

          I fully agree with that sentiment, as a disabled person, I’m finding the current legislation being purposed, bloody terrifying. There are precedents, and like it or not, we have some nasty people in this country who have no morals, or very lose ones. We let disabled children die already in this country, I’m not happy handing people the tools to kill more.

          • marty mars

            Thanks for that, interesting. I thought ad was saying forget the church stuff and think of it just as a political act. That seemed strange to me. Where would it end.

  5. The Great American Novel-Music: Larry Norman – YouTube
    you tube▶ 4:51

  6. Bill 6

    “where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

    And don’t we know it. What’s been the “vision” of these past 30 years? Yup. Pitch ‘one against all’ in a melee to grasp “opportunities” lest you perish. That was always going to end well.

    So which political party has a vision that isn’t just some continuation of the above; that puts people first; that puts society first – that has no place for the opportunistic lolly scramble of these past decades that has always favoured the biggest and more heartless, careless and more aggressive amongst us?

    Which party envisages something beyond just leveling that playing field of “opportunity”?

    • McFlock 6.1

      Gotta say I’m leaning towards the Greens.
      I’m hoping it’s just a passing case of the vapours.

  7. Sam C 7

    I don’t see what the problem is with this. Surely unions will be telling their members to get out and vote? The difference of course is that the unions will be telling their members WHO to vote for (presumably anyone but National or Act).

    The church isn’t telling its congregation who to vote for, merely encouraging people to be involved in the democratic process. What’s wrong with that?

    [This is the second time in as many days I’ve stumbled across a comment by you that has obviously been made without reading anything. A third time will be the last time.] – Bill

    • The Catholic church, Sam C, is guiding it’s people on how to decide their vote. Read the post. See if you can determine if there is any bias in that guidance. There may or may not be some. You might like to comment.

      • Norfolk Traveller 7.1.1

        I don’t detect bias, just genuine concern. I don’t agree with everything they have said, but the overall sentiment is that as a nation we face some challenges, and exercising our democratic right to vote is a responsibility we should take seriously.

  8. ” the galloping gap between the rich and the poor”

    Says it all.

  9. james 9

    I think that this is a great example of how ‘leaders of groups’ should communicate.

    They have articulated issues and views that they think are important and let people research and decide for themselves.

    It does not link to ‘biased’ articles supporting parties that they may want them to vote for.

    It helps create educated voters – and that can only be a good thing.

  10. mary_a 10


    Now we wait to see if Catholic Bill English pays attention to the wise words of his spiritual advisers, takes on board what they have said and acts accordingly.

    Could be a long waiting game I fear!

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