In a statement for Social Justice Week 2010, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops remind us that at Pentecost we celebrate the commissioning of the disciples to go forth and embrace all peoples and cultures in the name of Jesus.
‘The very name of our church – Catholic – means universal,’ say the bishops. ‘Our faith embraces all languages and cultures.’
This year for Social Justice Week, the bishops ask parish communities to follow the church’s early commitment to the equality of all people, ‘and to reconsider practical ways parish communities can live out the church’s ideals of inclusion and respect’.
They acknowledge there are both blessings and tensions arising out of a growing number of different groups which are transforming the cultural identity of the church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
‘Sometimes members of the dominant culture feel under threat from newer arrivals who may bring new languages and forms of religious expression into our communities.’
However, they encourage parishes to be unified while accommodating the different needs of the diverse communities who make up our church.
‘Diversity enriches our communities and should be seen as a source of blessing and peace. Understanding our differences can enhance our common humanity.’
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference booklet Creating inclusive and connected communities has been distributed to all parish councils. The booklet includes suggested questions on which parish councils can reflect. It also asks parishes to set one or two goals to begin to respond to cultural diversity, improve on what is already happening or set new challenges for themselves.