Ngā mihi mahana -warm greetings.
As you know, the New Zealand election is coming up on October 17.
It can be confusing who to vote for, or thinking about whether or not you are going to vote at all!
And this election is important as it will be asking us to vote on two referendums: the End of Life Choice Bill, which would give people with a terminal illness the option of requestion assisted dying; and the Cannabis Lesgislation and Control referendum, which would legalise the recreational use of cannabis (not the medicinal use, as this is already legal).
The End of Life Choice Bill is a binding referendum, which means that if enough people vote for it, it will immediately become law.
Notably, at this time, you are being bombarded by billboards, TV and internet marketing and reading the news about what is happening in parliament.
Your question might be: how should a Catholic vote?
It is a good question, because no one party upholds all the things that Catholics believe is important.
The Catholic Church does not tell people who they should vote for; rather, it encourages people to become informed on policies and issues that are important (things like well-being, hope and care of the poor and vulnerable, etc).
Every election, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) issues an election statement. It is written in English and Te Reo Māori, and can be found here.
There are other publications and guides that can help us be informed about who we should vote for based on what is important to us.
For example, if you wanted to look at how all politicians have voted in regards to family issues, then this is a good place to start and it is available in different languages here.
If you wanted to understand the Church’s point of view on the End of Life Choice Bill, you could look to this document from the NZCBC – The Consistent Ethic of Life. And here is a quick 10 question quiz to check your understanding on what the binding referendum may put into law.
If you want some official Vatican teaching on this, you can check out the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy’s “Directory on the Ministry and Life of the Priest” (n.33).
Catholic priests have a duty to tell people to vote, but not whom to vote for. The idea is that Catholic teaching advises people on issues and principles that inform their conscience as Catholics, and then encourages them to vote responsibly.
These are some key moral precepts that Catholics are asked to consider (in no particular order):
In summary, be encouraged to exercise your right to vote. It was hard fought for!
Let your informed conscience be your guide, and if this is your first time voting, then welcome to one of the privileges of adulting!
Mana Whānau Mana Taiohi – Diocesan Young Catholics
Diocese of Palmerston North
Rachel’s dad was given 6 months to live – but ended up living another 8 years. Have a read of the article that appeared on Stuff or hear her tell her story in this video made by the Diocese of Hamilton.
Whakarongo Ki Te Tangi A Papatūānuku – Hear the Cry of the Earth
On September 1 2020 the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington Ecology, Justice and Peace Commission, with the support of Caritas Aotearoa NZ, hosted a pre-election forum on the environment, where politicians shared their vision for our country. Watch the livestream here.
Value Your Vote 2020
This resource from Family First outlines how each MP has voted on important social issues, and takes an in-depth look at the euthanasia and cannabis referendums.
End Of Life | Referendum Short Cuts
Maxim Institute is an independent think tank, working to promote the dignity of every person in New Zealand, by standing for freedom, justice, and compassion. Here they have put together a user friendly collection of short videos and answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Act and euthanasia.
A NZ group of collective experts in medical/health, disability, social advocacy and ethics share their concerns about the End of Life Choice Bill and why it is flawed.
The Nathaniel Report
A publication of the Nathaniel Centre, the New Zealand Catholic bioethics centre, that discusses the moral and ethical implications of the End of Life Choice and cannabis referedums – read it here.
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