Chris Finlayson, former Cabinet Minister, has words for Church

Former Cabinet minister Chris Finlayson, a practicing Catholic, is also unsparing in his critiques of the Catholic Church.

Finlayson says he has vigorously chided church leaders who try to intervene in politics.

On one occasion the Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew, invited him to a picnic on Parliament’s lawn.

Finlayson says Dew wanted to demonstrate that through the sharing of food collectively we have sufficient resources to ensure all New Zealanders a moderate standard of living.

Appalled, Finlayson declined in writing, saying the picnic was almost as “gimmicky” as the antics of the Anglican leadership.

Quoting a Thatcher Bible favourite, 1 Timothy 5-8 Finlayson says St Paul warns that people who do not provide for their own families were disowning their faith. The former Cabinet Minister’s letter also said he deplored Catholic teaching being used “as a cover for extreme left-wing redistributionist views.”

He says that former Prime Minister John Key later said he’d had complaints from some bishops that Finlayson had been rude to them.

“I didn’t think I’d been rude – rather, I was attempting to tell them how to do their jobs,” he says.

Finlayson says it makes him cringe when other politicians discuss their faith publicly.

In fact he advised one new MP, Paulo Garcia, “not to talk about Jesus” in his maiden speech.

“He did.

“It’s not New Zealand, is it?

“I just think it jars in this country.

“Often it doesn’t seem authentic,” he says.

Finlayson says that New Zealand is a secular country and when dealing with matters that impact on religion it’s important to find a secular response.

Asked by The Spinoff’s Ben Thomas whether it is really possible to ring-fence belief from politics, Finlayson says politicians have to.

“I mean, my view on abortion is that I don’t know when life begins and I don’t know when life ends because there are these blurry periods.

“I acknowledge that my views, which come from mainstream Catholicism, are in many respects out of place in a secular New Zealand.

“And so I can’t go around imposing my views on people.

“This is where I think the United States have got it completely wrong.

“On the one hand, you have people who would be in favour of partial-birth abortions, and then there are those who say nothing from the moment of conception.

“I would have thought sensible people could get together and work out some kind of compromise which would get the damn topic out of the headlines.”

A former Cabinet minister’s memoir – Yes, Minister – is now out on the shelves.

Subtitled “An insider’s account of the John Key years,” Finlayson’s book makes positive comments about his former boss and nice things about other politicians too – not all of them on the same side of the House.


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, New Zealand, Palmerston, Top Story.

Tags: , , , ,