Bishops urge politicians to focus on real issues not trivia

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops want the politicians elected on 14 October to focus on issues that matter instead of the trivia and scandals that dominate public debate.

Writing in their Election Statement for the 2023 General Election, the bishops say more and more people are becoming disillusioned and feel disenfranchised because serious issues are treated as political footballs.

“We are concerned with the growing trivialisation of politics, with the focus of politicians and media being on mistakes, misdemeanours or scandals of individual parliamentarians instead of being on the scandals of poverty, mental health, and the diminishment of the sanctity and dignity of life,” the bishops say in their statement, which is being distributed around the county’s 470,000 Catholics in six dioceses and 194 parishes.

“We are concerned that so many of the issues affecting all of us are treated as political footballs. Successive election-season promises and the changing of policies in line with the agenda of each new government are not working.

“More and more people in our land are becoming disillusioned and feel disenfranchised. Our hope is that the politicians who will form the Government that voters elect on 14 October will focus on the issues that beset us as a nation and work together across party lines to make real progress in finding genuine, lasting solutions.”

While writing their statement, the bishops discussed the rising levels of poverty and mental health, the lack of housing in the various dioceses, and the storms earlier this year.

“We lamented the growing indifference to the sanctity of life. We affirmed our commitment for Te Tiriti o Waitangi as offering us a pathway of unity for our nation. And we talked about the rapidly growing toxicity in our communities that is dividing us and that generates anger, hate and even violence. These are but some of the many issues we face.”

Citing Jesus’ command to love your neighbour as yourself, the bishops acknowledge it can be difficult to find a party or candidates that subscribe to all that followers of Christ do. They urge Catholics to be informed and to look seriously at the policies of each party and the position of each individual candidate.

“At times we cannot find parties or candidates who subscribe to all we believe. When this happens, we make choices, informed by our conscience guided by the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching, for the party or candidate which will bring forth the most common good, especially for the poor and vulnerable, and at the same time whose policies will bring forth the least moral harm.”

Attached (and images below):

The Catholic Bishops’ 2023 Election Statement in PDF Format.

The full text of the 2023 Election Statement as a web page.