Wednesday, 7 February 2018

NZ BIshops' Letter to all parishes encouraging people to make submission on the "End of Life Choice" Bill

23 January 2018
Dear Parishioners,
As many of you will know, in December 2017, David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice’ bill had its first reading in Parliament and was voted through to the Justice Select Committee. This Bill, which seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, is something that we, the Bishops of New Zealand, remain extremely concerned about. We want to take the opportunity to further inform you about the complexities and risks associated with euthanasia and assisted suicide.
We are hesitant about “tacking on” activities to Mass, but from time to time a particular initiative is given permission because its focus is so important that in effect it finds its full meaning within the context of the Mass. As we gather to be nourished by God’s Word (teaching and law) and by His Body and Blood, which makes possible the fullness of life, it is appropriate that something which so gravely threatens the gift of life is addressed within the context of our Sunday worship.
Today, all around New Zealand, we are making available a resource which gives 5 reasons why legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide would be dangerous. We encourage you to share it among your friends, family and networks. This information is to inform and assist you to take personal action. Each of you can make a difference. Each of you are called to make a difference.
The fact sheet being provided at Masses today is also available online by visiting the website of The Nathaniel Centre – the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre –
Thank you for giving this your attention and for the support and effort you have all given to date on this issue. It is a powerful witness when the entire Catholic community is united around a point of belief and action – the upholding of the dignity of human life - which is so central to our faith and pivotal to an inclusive and caring society.
Many of you submitted to the Health Select Committee Inquiry two years ago. There is now an urgent need to let parliament know your views about David Seymour’s Bill. Therefore, we urge each of you to get personally involved by sending a submission to Parliament’s Justice Select Committee before the closing date of 20 February 2018. Instructions on how to make a submission will be handed out with the fact sheet.
Your voice will make a difference

Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President
Bishop Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and NZCBC Secretary Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington
Bishop Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton
Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin
Bishop-Elect Paul Martin SM, Bishop-Elect of Christchurch 

Euthanasia: Bishop Drennan's Letter to Year 13 Students

Kia ora tātou,

Ngā mihi o te tau hōu ki a koutou.

Welcome to Year 13.

I’m writing to you about the so-called End of Life Choice Bill. It is about legalizing assisted suicide or euthanasia in New Zealand.

We all know that youth suicide in Aotearoa is a terrible tragedy for families. Those affected always have our deep sympathy, support and care. There are lots of wonderful things about growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand, but clearly for some young people there is a dark and troubling side to our life. Blame is never our response.

As a nation, our youth suicide statistics are a cause of shame or whakamā for our country. We rightly feel some sense of responsibility; what else might I/we do to prevent suicide?

That sense of responsibility, I invite you also to think about with regard to our elderly, mentally ill, debilitated, and vulnerable. These are the people that the Bill before parliament will most affect. I believe strongly, and the Church teaches, that euthanasia should never be the answer to vulnerability, sickness or even pain. We can do better. In fact, euthanasia is not a medical treatment; it is a political possibility which the large majority of caregivers, nurses and doctors say has nothing to do with their work or profession.    

One of the challenges we are facing in the korero or debate around euthanasia is the use of the word “choice”. Choice is often good, but not always good. The idea of choice sounds positive, but in fact we don’t give people a choice to drink and drive, to beat their spouse or partner, to sell drugs, to turn up to work or not, to follow the rules of a sport or not.  What is always good, is the choice of what is right or dignified or best.

Choosing what is wrong never makes sense. That’s what each one of you “gets” about youth suicide. It’s never a good option.  How cynical and shallow it is therefore that one MP, from one tiny political party, is leading a campaign to make assisted suicide of the sick and vulnerable and debilitated seem normal and good. It isn’t. It’s wrong.

Last year my Dad died aged 98. He was in the hospital care wing of a rest home. For some outsiders looking in, the last year couple of years of his life may have seemed “worthless”. He was totally dependent upon caregivers, was not able to support himself standing, and slept or dozed most of the time. Yet right to the very end, thanks to the rest-home care and whānau, he retained his dignity and continued to impart goodness. Even when uttering a few words had become hard work for him, he always whispered: “thank you for visiting.”

Together with this letter, your teachers will give you some information fact sheets to help you, if you so choose, to make a submission on this Bill. I encourage you to do so and hope that you will be given class time for this action. Apathy places power in the hands of others. Pope Francis, recently speaking to young people, simply said: “Don’t let others decide our future”.

check out:

Kia kaha!

Ngā mihi me ngā whakapainga rangimārie ki ā koutou.

Bishop Charles.


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Royal Commission on institutional responses to child abuse. Recommendations to the Catholic Church

Recommendations to the Catholic Church

 Recommendation 16.6 The bishop of each Catholic Church diocese in Australia should ensure that parish priests are not the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools.

Recommendation 16.7 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women. This review should draw from the approaches to governance of Catholic health, community services and education agencies.

Recommendation 16.8 In the interests of child safety and improved institutional responses to child sexual abuse, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to: a. publish criteria for the selection of bishops, including relating to the promotion of child safety b. establish a transparent process for appointing bishops which includes the direct participation of lay people.

Recommendation 16.9 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend the 1983 Code of Canon Law to create a new canon or series of canons specifically relating to child sexual abuse, as follows: a. All delicts relating to child sexual abuse should be articulated as canonical crimes against the child, not as moral failings or as breaches of the ‘special obligation’ of clerics and religious to observe celibacy. b. All delicts relating to child sexual abuse should apply to any person holding a ‘dignity, office or responsibility in the Church’ regardless of whether they are ordained or not ordained. c. In relation to the acquisition, possession, or distribution of pornographic images, the delict (currently contained in Article 6 §2 1° of the revised 2010 norms attached to the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela) should be amended to refer to minors under the age of 18, not minors under the age of 14.

Recommendation 16.10 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend canon law so that the pontifical secret does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse.

Recommendation 16.11 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend canon law to ensure that the ‘pastoral approach’ is not an essential precondition to the commencement of canonical action relating to child sexual abuse.

Recommendation 16.12 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend canon law to remove the time limit (prescription) for commencement of canonical actions relating to child sexual abuse. This amendment should apply retrospectively.

Recommendation 16.13 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend the ‘imputability’ test in canon law so that a diagnosis of paedophilia is not relevant to the prosecution of or penalty for a canonical offence relating to child sexual abuse.

Recommendation 16.14 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend canon law to give effect to Recommendations 16.55 and 16.56.

Recommendation 16.15 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, in consultation with the Holy See, should consider establishing an Australian tribunal for trying canonical disciplinary cases against clergy, whose decisions could be appealed to the Apostolic Signatura in the usual way.

Recommendation 16.16 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to introduce measures to ensure that Vatican Congregations and canonical appeal courts always publish decisions in disciplinary matters relating to child sexual abuse, and provide written reasons for their decisions. Publication should occur in a timely manner. In some cases it may be appropriate to suppress information that might lead to the identification of a victim. 1

Recommendation 16.17 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to amend canon law to remove the requirement to destroy documents relating to canonical criminal cases in matters of morals, where the accused cleric has died or ten years have elapsed from the condemnatory sentence. In order to allow for delayed disclosure of abuse by victims and to take account of the limitation periods for civil actions for child sexual abuse, the minimum requirement for retention of records in the secret archives should be at least 45 years. Recommendation

16.18 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should request the Holy See to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.

Recommendation 16.19 All Catholic religious institutes in Australia, in consultation with their international leadership and the Holy See as required, should implement measures to address the risks of harm to children and the potential psychological and sexual dysfunction associated with a celibate rule of religious life. This should include consideration of whether and how existing models of religious life could be modified to facilitate alternative forms of association, shorter terms of celibate commitment, and/or voluntary celibacy (where that is consistent with the form of association that has been chosen).

Recommendation 16.20 In order to promote healthy lives for those who choose to be celibate, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and all Catholic religious institutes in Australia should further develop, regularly evaluate and continually improve, their processes for selecting, screening and training of candidates for the clergy and religious life, and their processes of ongoing formation, support and supervision of clergy and religious.

Recommendation 16.21 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia should establish a national protocol for screening candidates before and during seminary or religious formation, as well as before ordination or the profession of religious vows.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Six hundred March for Life in New Zealand's Capital

Six hundred people from all over New Zealand joyfully walked the streets of Wellington on Saturday, marching in defence of human life from conception.

The National March for Life, the first in the nation's Capital since 1974, was organised to mark the 40th anniversary of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act (1977) and remember the more than half a million babies whose lives have been lost by abortion.

The theme of the March for Life was love them both.

In a joy-filled atmosphere, families and individuals of all ages and religious backgrounds from the Far North to the Deep South gathered at the Civic Centre near Wellington's waterfront.
Led by five teenage girls and accompanied by upbeat singing, the large group, holding pink and blue balloons, made their way to Parliament where they assembled on the grass for entertainment and speeches.

Ensuring the public watching the March was left with a positive message, the newly launched Gianna's Choice Mobile Centre followed the procession.  The rear of the van has a large advertisement, which informs abortion-vulnerable women that they are not alone.

Speakers on the steps of Parliament included Gordon Copeland, former Minister of Parliament; David Light, silver Commonwealth Games boxing medallist; and Kate Cormack, Vice President of Voice for Life.

Hillary Kieft, a powerful pro-life voice and an advocate for parental notification laws, spoke of her own abortion experience as a teenager.

"I know the heartache and the pain and the destruction and the depression and the suicide attempts of killing your baby" she explained.

"I was young.  I was scared.  And I was selfish.  It took me over 20 years to overcome and come to a place of healing."

Mother of Divine Mercy Refuge youth entertained the large crowd.  The young people come from families who have endured extreme violence.  Many are abortion survivors.  Hope and joy radiated from the group despite the difficult circumstances they have had to live in their lives.

To conclude, 500 pink and blue balloons were released.  Each balloon represented 1,000 pre-born babies who have lost their lives to abortion in New Zealand since 1974, when the first abortion facility opened in Auckland.

The organisers wanted to mark the historic moment in New Zealand's history by uniting all those who want to end abortion.

"Those participating in the March are not clanging cymbals," Kaufman said.  "These people walk the talk every day of their lives.

"They leave the March energised, ready to continue serving women and families and be a voice for the unborn out of great love."

Plans are afoot to make the National March for Life an annual event

Michelle Kaufman
March for Life Spokesperson