Our Anglican notion of social justice is built on the teachings of Jesus Christ. These are encapsulated in his Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As Christians, our responsibility is to live out these principles and remember the promise of Isaiah 61:to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to comfort those who mourn.
This priority goes beyond equality-and even equity-and strives for liberation. Angus Maguire (IISC) seeks to demonstrate that difference in the images below.
Our Provincial (New Zealand, and the Polynesia) social justice resource site is here. At this site you can find, download and upload resources in the following areas:
- Crime and Punishment
- Disability Ministry
- The Environment
- Other Resources
In addition to this, read on for information on specific Diocesan projects.
“Climate change, quite simply, is the issue of the twenty-first century. It is not one issue among any, but, like the canary in the mine, it is warning us that the way we are living on our planet is causing us to head for disaster. We must change. All of the other issues we care about – social justice, peace, prosperity, freedom – cannot occur unless our planet is healthy. It is the unifying issue of our time.”
Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming (Fortress Press, 2008)
As Christians we have an unambiguous responsibility to care for creation. As a Diocese we are seeking to do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint. This includes such simple strategies as:
- An emphasis on video conference technology and remote meetings;
- Electronic correspondence and distribution of papers (e.g. synod, registration, surveys, newsletters, etc);
- Limiting air travel and choosing to carbon offset.
In addition, we encourage all ministry units to read and respond to the strategies recommended in For Creed and Creation : A simple guide to greening your church by Gillian Straine and Nathan Oxley.
Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Dying
In November, the End of Life Choice Act 2019 (EOLC Act) passed its third and final reading in Parliament after a two-year process. During this time the Justice Select Committee examined the largest number of submissions in our legislative history. During the 2020 general election, New Zealand voters will decide whether they support the Act or not through a binding referendum.
At Synod in September 2019, the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki passed this motion:
“That this Synod reaffirms its decision of 2014 (Motion 4) and continues to oppose any move to legalise euthanasia or physician-assisted-suicide in New Zealand. Furthermore, it urges ministry units and individuals to:
- Make submissions opposing the End of Life Choice Bill to their local MPs;
- Advocate increased spending on and resourcing for enhanced palliative and end-of-life care.
- Request Standing Committee to appoint a group to advise and comment on any amendments to the Bill.
 The Justice Select Committee received over 38,707 independent written submissions, with 91.8% opposed to the EOLC Bill.
Abortion Law Reform
The Abortion Legislation Bill is described by the NZ Parliament as follows:
"This omnibus bill amends the law to decriminalise abortion, better align the regulation of abortion services with other health services, and modernise the legal framework for abortion currently set out in the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977."
On the 14th of February, 2020, the Abortion Legislation Committee delivered its report on the Abortion Legislation Bill.
Among the recommendations in the committee's report, it called for safeguards to address sex selection, late-term abortions, and the removal of some of the barriers for women who require abortions.
The Select Committee received more than 25,000 submissions on the bill, which would ultimately remove the medical procedure from the Crimes Act.
Then, on the March 1, the Bill passed its second reading in Parliament in a conscience vote: 81 votes in favour and 39 votes opposing (narrower than the 94 to 23 margin at the first reading last year).
All NZ First MPs supported the bill in order to try to have an amendment passed at a future stage of the bill that would put the issue to a referendum.
The Bill will drop the current test for an abortion after 20 weeks, which can be approved if deemed necessary to save the woman's life or prevent serious injury.
In addition, there would be no legal test for earlier than 20 weeks, leaving the decision up to the woman and her doctor. For later than 20 weeks, a medical practitioner - after consulting at least one other qualified health practitioner - would have to agree that an abortion is appropriate, having regard to the woman's physical and mental health and "overall wellbeing".
The next stage is the Committee of the Whole House (likely to be mid-late March), when amendments can be lodged to try to change the bill and which it must pass before a third and final reading.