In preparation for this country’s general election every three years, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops issue a statement to encourage Catholics in Aotearoa to make a difference through a considered vote, formed in the light of the Gospel. At this year’s general election in September, voters are also being asked to vote on two referenda: whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should come into force; and whether recreational use of cannabis should become legal.
A theme for the bishops’ 2020 election statement is about being connected, stemming from Pope Francis’ letter, Laudato si’, our care of the Earth, our common home, and his wider vision of life that he has named ‘Integral Ecology’. ‘Integral Ecology’ highlights the interconnectedness that exists between God, humanity and creation, and recognises how the political, cultural, economic, social and religious dimensions are interrelated.
In their statement the bishops ask: ‘Who would have believed at the beginning of 2020 our nation would experience a lockdown as never seen before? In the past seven months, we have all been challenged by the global Covid-19 pandemic and its ongoing consequences for individuals, for families, for our country and for the world. Now, as we are prepare for New Zealand’s general election, we want to invite you, the voters and our politicians, to reflect beyond party policies and political personalities and consider: “What kind of a nation do we want Aotearoa New Zealand to be as we journey together?”
‘The experience of the unfolding pandemic and economic crisis have taught us many lessons. It has brought out the best in us as we united to become “a team of five million” to protect those most vulnerable to the virus due to their age or state of health. Protecting life, especially the lives of those most vulnerable – from the beginning to the end of life – should be a cornerstone for our nation now and into the future. Life through all its stages must be treated as a sacred taonga, a sacred treasure.
This election, voters are also being asked to respond to two referenda questions on euthanasia and making recreational cannabis legal. In reflecting on these questions, the bishops say we again need to look at the wider picture; asking how the proposed law changes will affect the vulnerable and our connectedness to one another.
The bishops conclude, ‘Rather than thinking about what will benefit each of us personally regarding the election and referendum choices we face, we ask you to pray and discern what will protect the poor and vulnerable and what will uphold the dignity of creation so that we create a connected future for all, without discarding any of us.’
The bishops’ statement will be issued this month to parishes and will be available in print and online.
Published in WelCom August 2020