Bishop Patrick Dunn, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, has welcomed an increase in New Zealand’s refugee intake, and the pilot of a community sponsorship program. He acknowledged that New Zealand’s contribution is modest and pointed to the need to address the causes of the refugee crisis, saying: “The extent of the global refugee crisis is staggering and the number of people that we can help is never going to solve the issue. An end to conflict and persecution and meaningful and lasting peace are the only things that can resolve this crisis.” The community support program would allow for refugees beyond the government’s quota to be welcomed. More information from CathNews NZ & Pacific.
Cardinal John Dew will launch a Poverty and Justice Bible campaign in Wellington on 13 September 2015 to coincide with the start of Social Justice Week. Over 350 people are expected to attend the event. CathNews New Zealand reports that the campaign, jointly developed by the Bible Society New Zealand and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, centres around a new Catholic Poverty and Justice Bible. It is a New Zealand edition of The Poverty and Justice Bible which uses the Catholic NRSV translation and includes a unique study section. The studies are derived from the New Zealand Year 12 Religious Education curriculum and from Caritas resources. The Poverty and Justice Bible campaign is supported by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and endorsed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Cardinal Dew said that it was inspired by Pope Francis’ concern for the poor: “Pope Francis is passionate about people living the Gospel of Jesus and he has a deep concern for those who suffer from injustice and live lives of poverty.” The Bible Society is making a buy one get one gift free offer which will make available free copies to people or families who cannot afford to purchase one. For more information on sales and gifts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A Constitutional Conversation is going on in the Pacific country of Aotearoa New Zealand. In their submission, the Catholic Bishops support moving to a written constitution and have proposed an Introduction for such a constitution. They explore the meaning of freedom, truth and responsibility. Read their submission here. Development agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has also made a submission. They emphasize the role that a written constitution could play in protecting human rights, and they support the submission made by the Catholic Bishops. Read their submission here:
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Auckland in New Zealand supports the Living Wage Movement. They have worked together with others in New Zealand since 2013 for a wage that is sufficient to allow a family to live in dignity and participate in society. New Zealand law sets a minimum hourly wage rate, but the movement demonstrates that the rate is inadequate. Living Wage Week This information leaflet from the Auckland Justice and Peace Commission raises awareness of the issues in time for Living Wage Week 2016. In it Bishop Patrick Dunn explains the importance of the issue.
In this address to the Pacific Partnership for Human Development in December 1988, Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North in New Zealand, sets out clearly the position of Catholic Social Teaching regarding social sin and structures of sin. He systematically addresses the following claims: Evil exists not only in the choices individuals make but also in the social structures and economic systems which result from our choices: Structures and systems have a life of their own over and above, and even independent of, the life and the powers of the individuals within them; Because the evil that becomes enshrined in structures and systems is over and above what can be attributed to individuals, the way to counter that evil is different from how one goes about changing individuals; Changing oppressive structures and systems requires the methods of confrontation; The Church, by reason of its commitment to the oppressed, must be involved in confronting and changing oppressive structures and systems. Bishop Cullinane concludes that both individual persons and structures need to change. He does not agree that confrontation is the only way to change structures, and prefers methods that are consistent with the freedom of heart and mind that they seek to achieve. He says: “In practice, the Church acts sometimes as a counter-culture and sometimes as a leaven, subject to all that is most human. But whatever the method that is most appropriate in the circumstances, the obligation to challenge social sin and sinful structures is unambiguous.” Read the full address here Bishop (now Emeritus) Cullinane’s writing and speaking about social justice, social sin and structures of sin, are an important contribution to the local social teachings of the Pacific region. A number of his writings, including this classic piece, can be accessed at the website of the Palmerston North Diocese.
The Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, meeting in Noumea, expressed concern about climate change saying: Of particular concern to us are rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and unusual rainfall patterns. These are affecting many of our communities in a harmful way. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels. Examples from this part of the world include the Carteret Islands, Fead Islands, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Mortlock Islands, Nukumanu Islands, the Tokelau Islands, and Tuvalu. As representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Australia, CEPAC (the Pacific Island nations), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they came from a multitude of island nation States spread throughout the Pacific. Read their statement here
The season of Lent calls us to take stock of our lives. How well are we witnessing to our values and beliefs? Do they permeate every dimension of our lives, or do we, perhaps without thinking too much about it, bracket them from some parts of our lives? During the season of Lent we ask ourselves how we can follow Jesus more closely, accepting his invitation to make the Kingdom of God present in the world. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that evangelization is not complete if the Gospel is separated from any part of life (EG, n 181). The light of the Gospel touches every part of our lives – if we let it in. We can make the Kingdom of God present in the world through what we do – and do not – buy. Fair trade Easter eggs can be an icon of the light of the Gospel shinning on the economic dimension of life. Is Chocolate a Faith Issue? Will you be buying fair trade Easter eggs? Perhaps you haven’t really thought much about chocolate production as a faith issue? The way in which a lot of chocolate is produced involves the exploitation and even enslavement and trafficking of workers, including children, and unfair terms of trade that keep communities in poverty and dependence. These are issues that Pope Francis has been speaking about a lot lately. If you want to stand with him against these injustices, one thing that you can do is to buy only fair trade chocolate. Never heard of fair trade chocolate? There’s lots of information at Stop the Traffick. Each year Stop the Traffick runs an Easter chocolate campaign designed to raise awareness of the links between chocolate production and trafficking in persons and how we can use our power as consumers to promote change. We can witness to our faith while shopping in the supermarket. How will you recognize fair trade chocolate? There is a system of accreditation and labeling run by Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand as part of the international fair trade network. It works in a similar way to the accreditation and labeling of organic products. There are also producers and retail networks that specialize in fair trade products. The Trading Circle, created by the Good Shepherd Sisters has been active in this way for many years. They support income-generating projects that provide women with alternatives to prostitution and that reduce the vulnerability of communities to trafficking. You can support their work by buying their products online or in-store. Another Way of Behaving in the Economy Fair trade networks witness to the Gospel by demonstrating that there is another way of behaving in the economy. Exploitation is not inevitable – it is a choice on the part of producers and consumers. Witnessing to alternative ways of living in the world is a particular gift to the church of the religious institutes and they have been at the forefront of Catholic action on fair trade. The Year of Consecrated Life is a good time to thank them for this, and to step up our support for their efforts. Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, called for love and the logic of gift to be part of the way in which the global economy operates – not a redistributive afterthought, but an integral part of systems of production and consumption. What fair trade networks have demonstrated is possible must now become an ordinary part of all production and consumption. The Sign with Mary campaign takes up this next step by asking large retail chains to integrate fair trade into their supply chain policies and to stock fair trade chocolate. Clearly, a Christian commitment to fair trade products must go beyond chocolate, and beyond the Easter season, and our participation in making the Kingdom of God present in the world goes beyond our patterns of consumption. But right now, fair trade Easter eggs can be an icon of the new life of the Resurrection present even in acts of production and consumption.