It’s time for me to protest again

The last time I protested was during university days. That’s, shall we say quite a while ago!

But recently I have felt a stirring within me to bring my faith into the public forum in a visible way.

There is a growing brittleness in our world. Russia’s bullying of Ukraine, atrocities in the Middle East, intolerances almost everywhere.

New Zealand isn’t free of tensions

The gap between the rich and poor in New Zealand is the greatest since records have been kept.

This isn’t by chance.

Government economic policy and the collapse of a sense of governance (in reference to higher principles like the common good or equality of opportunity etc) favour the already wealthy becoming even more wealthy.

When I was at Uni the counter to this was the ‘trickle down theory’.

Excess wealth was supposed to trickle down to the low paid.

Yeah, right.

As Pope Francis has put it: “this theory expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and meanwhile the excluded are still waiting” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).

And now the government’s new housing policy sees a reduction in government housing and an increase in rent subsidies, which go where? Into the pockets of landlords.

Ideological policies rather than principled policies are placing more and more pressure on the least well off in our country; a further recent example is the approval and introduction of demeaning zero-hour contracts.

Lack of Government transparency

What I wish to draw our attention to today is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). A large range of commentators and leaders are warning us against this agreement.

What I find most distasteful is that it is being negotiated in secret.

This undermines democracy and heightens the concern that the agreement places the interests and power of the largest multinational companies above the interests of individuals, ordinary families, authentic national interests, and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Citizens have a right and duty to protect our egalitarian principles, our kiwi culture, and our expectations of fairness in health, educational and business spheres.

Absolute freedom to market anything, anyhow, is not in our interests and most certainly is not a “right” that can trump the democratic duty of a government to regulate and govern a national economy broadly in accord with the wishes of a nation’s citizens.

I shall be joining the protest on Saturday 7th March calling for the Government to be transparent about the full implications of what it is committing New Zealand to. You may wish to join me.

  • Hastings: 1pm, Civic Square
  • New Plymouth: 1pm, Puke Ariki Landing
  • Palmerston North: 1pm The Square (opp library)
  • Whanganui: 11am, Stainless Steel Sphere, Boadwalk.


– Bishop Charles Drennan

News category: Opinion.

  • Nick

    It seems slacktivism has taken over and part of the problem is that NZ as a whole has forgotten the toll our forebears bore over fighting for the freedoms and rights we have and enjoy now. Apathetic disinterest is a cancer that will come to collect.

  • Anna Holmes

    You are absolutely right about the danger of TTPA. Is the Bishop's conference going to come out with a statement about it? It will not only allow the rich/poor gap to get bigger it will prevent measures to close the gap. The effects of it will be felt by the poor not the rich.
    Anna Holmes

  • Lisa Beech

    My heart is singing at this column. My family’s social justice journey started when Bishop Peter invited Catholics in Palmerston North to join him in marching against the Springbok Tour in 1981. My parents had never been on any protest marches before, and they only took us because the march was being led by a Bishop. And that ended up introducing me to a side of my faith that I’d never encountered before, and for which I continue to be very grateful. I was planning to spend tomorrow in the office. But I feel like it would be good for my spirit and my soul to follow again a Bishop marching around the Square in Palmerston North, so I think I'll go on a pilgrimage tomorrow.

  • Mary Betz

    Great to see Bishop Charles leading! We have encouraged our Auckland Justice and Peace Commission network to rally and march tomorrow at Myers Park Queen St, 1pm.

    • Gordon McConnell

      Yes, well Peg and I caught the train to Britomart and joined the rally at Myers Park and walked down Queen Street with great joy that we were doing something instead of sitting on our hands.

      It reminded me of the Hikoi of Hope which we joined in Wellington many years ago.

      Thank God a bishop is speaking as last.

      Justice and democracy must prevail.

  • Patricia Kane

    Good on you, Bishop Charles – you are a true cousin of Rupert W., whom I have known since his youth. This is the sort of leadership we need in Aotearoa.

  • Cecily McNeill

    Great. Well done Bishop Charles,

  • Matt Collins

    Good on you Bishop Charles,you are setting a good example,I am extremely proud to call you my Bishop!

  • Leo

    Dear, oh, dear, Bishop Drennan.

    This is not your faith you’re bringing “into the public forum in a visible way”, this is your commitment to left-wing politics.

    I think you are demeaning the status of the Church in New Zealand, and insulting us your flock with this pretence.

    Not good enough. Nowhere near good enough.


  • Sue Danym

    Good on you Bishop Drennan, thank you for supporting the cause. It seems that Leo does not understand the social justice teachings of the church, hopefully the good Lord will show him the way.

    Leo, I hear John Key calling on his followers, you had better follow his demands before you are shipped off to Iraq.

  • Kate

    Bless you Bishop Drennan for having the courage to speak out against TPPA.

  • Michael Stanton

    When will the supporters of the current regime realize that we no longer live in an egalitarian democracy – we are living in a country which is fast becoming a dictatorship. Continue to speak out Bishop Charles.

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