NZ’s Catholic bishops issue 2014 General Election statement

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have written a statement on the 2014 General Election, with particular emphasis on remembering the poor and vulnerable.

According to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference website, the statement is written for Catholics to read and reflect upon.

It begins with a quote from Pope Francis: “The goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable, wherever they may be, even in their mothers’ wombs.”

But the bishops were quick to say that neither themselves nor the Church would tell people who to vote for.

“Catholic teaching advises us on how to think about who to vote for. This takes a bit more work, and a lot more thinking and talking,” the statement explained.

The bishops said that no political party or platform represents the totality of the Church’s teaching.

They acknowledged that sometimes voters might feel they are faced with having to choose between important issues, for example, prioritising a politician’s or a party’s position on euthanasia or poverty.

“Catholic teaching does not trade off the well-being of vulnerable groups of people against one another,” the statement argued.

“We seek political outcomes that protect the lives and wellbeing of all vulnerable people.”

The bishops said there is a “special responsibility to engage with the political party that we intend to support in an election, and to speak up for the poor and the vulnerable through the whole political cycle”.

“This means challenging all politicians and political parties, especially the one for whom you decide to vote.”

The statement went on to address the following issues: People living in poverty; People living with pain, illness or approaching the end of their lives; Unborn children; Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants; People in prison; People without a vote;

It concluded with an exhortation: ”Question, discuss, debate, pray, be involved, and speak out for the poor and vulnerable among us as you decide how to cast your vote.”

New Zealand’s General Election is on September 20.


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