WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Church leaders’ vision for a fair society

Features

Rodney Macann
9 November 2011

Church leaders are calling on all political parties to acknowledge their shared responsibility to provide a just share of society’s wealth and resources for all its citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

This includes adequate income for everyone, fair taxation policies, access to good healthcare, affordable housing and provision for sustainable living.

‘These are not privileges but part of the common heritage of humanity,’ the church leaders say.
‘Social welfare is part of a greater picture of social, economic and environmental priorities and decisions about spending. Caring for others makes us better people and strengthens our community.

‘It’s not every day that church leaders join together with a collective voice on an issue which proves how strongly we feel about the importance of the State’s role in providing for all members of society,’ says Rodney Macann, group spokesperson and National Leader of Baptist Churches of New Zealand.

Bringing ethical questions to the proposals of political parties, the church leaders ask, ‘How are the most vulnerable faring in this society?

‘How will particular policies affect them? What decisions will be made about land? How efficient is our economy in producing wealth and income and ensuring its benefits are shared with all citizens?’

Basic principles that support these questions include fair treatment for all members of society with particular care for the most vulnerable, strong, safe communities and well-protected children and spreading the taxation load fairly and proportionately across all sectors of society.

Although acknowledging that the best development is that in which people face their issues and find solutions, the church leaders say people cannot develop alone. ‘While churches are called to bring leadership for a strong ethic, underpinning fairness and responsibility, the role of government action remains essential for a fair society.’

Mr Macann urges all New Zealanders to think about their values, especially during the general election campaign.
‘No matter what your faith or beliefs, consider your values and then consider what direction you think the government should take to ensure a fairer future for all New Zealanders.

‘We see the responsibility of the State as providing for a just sharing of society’s wealth and resources. This includes adequate income for everyone, fair taxation policies, access to good healthcare, affordable housing, and living sustainably. These are not privileges but part of the common heritage of humanity.

Social welfare is part of a greater picture of social, economic and environmental priorities and decisions about spending. Social provision must ensure that welfare is a vital part of that greater picture because it involves the most vulnerable where Christ is especially to be found (Mt 25). Caring for others makes us better people and strengthens our community.

Present situation
The economic recession and earthquakes in Christchurch are a challenge to government responsiveness. Central to a government’s role is ensuring the common good for all people in the restoration process.

We bring ethical questions to the proposals of the government. How are the most vulnerable faring in this society? How will particular policies affect them? What decisions will be made about land? How efficient is our economy in producing wealth and income and ensuring its benefits are shared with all citizens?

Basic principles
• Fair treatment for all members of society with particular care for the most vulnerable.
• Strong, safe communities and well-protected children.
• Fair access to good housing and healthcare.
• Spreading the taxation load fairly and proportionately across all sectors of society.
• Employment opportunities springing from appropriate training opportunities.
• No stigmatisation of those on low incomes.
• Practical recognition of tangata whenua/Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi.
• Culturally appropriate models of development can be part of a more decentralised system.
• Local and national development that harmonises with environmental and climate responsibilities.
• Our responsibility for others includes our Pacific context and global-scale justice matters.

The best development is that in which people face their issues and find solutions. However, we cannot develop alone and it is in interaction that we discover and achieve our possibilities and discover different situations.

Churches can provide some assistance. In church communities people can meet across social divides and practise mutual care and responsibility.

While Churches are called to bring leadership for a strong ethic, underpinning fairness and responsibility, the role of government action remains essential for a fair society.

Rodney Macann, National Leader, Baptist Churches of New Zealand
Most Reverend John Dew, Catholic Archbishop of Wellington
Most Reverend David Moxon, Archbishop, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia
Reverend Desmond Cooper, President, Methodist Church of New Zealand
Right Reverend Peter Cheyne, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Commissioner Donald Bell, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga
Pastor Ken Harrison, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand

Links: www.nzccss.org.nz/site/home.php
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