“Religions are an integral part of human societies. This is reflected in the school community, the wider local community and the national community of which we are all a part”.
Archbishop John Dew said this as he launched the revised edition of the Statement on Religious Diversity at the 2009 New Zealand Diversity Forum held in Wellington 23-24 August.
“The first edition of the Statement on Religious Diversity in New Zealand in 2007 was the result of extensive consultation and the contribution of people of diverse religious backgrounds. It sparked debate, and sometimes controversy, in our respective religious traditions,” he said.
“Two years later, we have seen the value of the work we did then, and today, I am pleased to convey the endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church to this revised edition”.
The Archbishop said the eight key principles of 2007 are retained, with the commentary on each reflecting the changes and experiences of the past two years.
The revised text, he said, “reflects submissions from the public and from organisations, especially faith groups and churches”.
In the foreword to the revised edition, Prime Minister John Key says the statement sets out a number of principles which are grounded in international human rights treaties and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
Examples he gives include: freedom of religion, conscience, belief and expression and the right to safety, security and reasonable accommodation of diverse religious practices in various settings.
The statement “encourages education about our diverse religious and spiritual traditions, respectful dialogue, and positive relationships between government and faith communities,” he says.
Both the Prime Minister and the Archbishop say the statement offers a framework for national discussion on religious issues.