A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The General Election and making the world a better place

Fr Kevin Head sm

In this issue of the Marist Messenger is the NZ Catholic Bishops’ statement about the NZ General Election. The Bishops invite us to ‘pray about, reflect on, discuss and debate what kind of society New Zealand can be in the eyes of God.’ They say that ‘Faith has a vital role in the public forum,’ and urge us to ‘Stand up, uphold the common good of our nation, choose wisely,’ so that ‘your vote will be a blessing for our nation.’

We are blessed to live in a country where there is peace, where there is very little corruption, where race relations, while not perfect, reflect the good will of most of the population, and where most people are well-fed, clothed, and housed. While Aotearoa New Zealand is, for most people, a wonderful country in which to live, for those less well-off, it is as bad and sad a place as many other countries.

For example, there are many cases of illness resulting from sub-standard housing, or no housing, and lack of proper nourishment. Many New Zealanders are in prison: in June 2016, there were 8,835 men and 660 women imprisoned; of these, 51.3% were Māori, while people of Māori descent make up only about 15% of the population. There are people who live in our country who are appallingly racist, and we have significant problems with drug and alcohol addiction, and violence. As well, we have an ever-growing and dangerous anti-life movement, a suicide rate which shames us, we are distinctly ungenerous in the number of refugees we admit, and, as the Bishops point out, we are doing little about combatting climate change.

When I find myself feeling down about New Zealand’s and the world’s problems, it’s helpful for me to remember that there is also much about which to rejoice and be glad.

... casting an informed vote will be a blessing for our nation

In the past 18 months, I’ve visited twenty-six different churches in twenty parishes, and spoken almost 60 times (!), selling subscriptions for this magazine. I’ve been warmly welcomed and encouraged by parishioners and priests, and I’ve been impressed by how very good and kind people are. I’ve also been struck by how faith-filled Catholic people are. Everywhere, I’ve been uplifted and supported greatly in my faith by the reverence, stillness and prayerfulness of the Sunday congregations. In short, I’ve found New Zealand and Australian church-goers nothing short of inspiring. I’m well aware that many worshippers in our churches carry heavy crosses and have dreadful sorrow in their lives, yet they endure courageously, leading prayerful, good, and even heroic, lives. The holiness of so many people in our churches is palpable. So there is, I believe, much about which to rejoice and be glad.

There is also much to be sad about, and much that could be better, which is why casting an informed vote is important, and, as our Bishops say, ‘will be a blessing for our nation.’

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