Members of the Wellington Archdiocese Ecology, Justice and Peace (EJP) Commission and its three Committees have written an open letter to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference advocating that the present state of the Covid-19 pandemic requires a continuation of the restrictions outlined in their November 2021 pastoral letter.
The Wellington EJP letter is a response to an anonymous “open letter” from a group of Catholic men asking the Bishops to ask the government to review and remove vaccine mandates and other restrictions. By contrast the Wellington EJP letter is signed by both women and men. The anonymous open letter was publicised on the CathNews NZ website on Monday 28 February.
The EJP letter recognises that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to the lives and wellbeing of vulnerable people, which requires a prudential and ethical response from all of us.The letter recognises that there will be a time for removing mandates and other restrictions, but not now when daily case numbers are over 10,000 and hundreds are hospitalised. “We support reviewing and removing mandates when they are no longer required. But that time is not now.”
The anonymous open letter had claimed that removal of mandates would increase the morale of New Zealand Catholics, but the EJP members do not agree. “We are Catholics who would be dismayed if the Bishops were seen to abandon the precepts of solidarity, protection for the poor and vulnerable, and concern for the common good which are foundational to Catholic Social Teaching.” They say it is in the light of these principles that many New Zealanders have accepted the restrictions of the past two years.
The EJP letter reminds the Bishops of Pope Francis’ theme for his 2022 Lenten message, taken from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians: Let us not tire of doing good. “We hope, pray and believe that our current restrictions will not be necessary for much longer. But we ask you, following the example of St Paul, to continue to exhort our whole community not to give up, but to continue with practices that protect the most vulnerable, for the good of all.”
The EJP letter’s aim is to strengthen the resolve of New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference in continuing with the position taken in their November 2021 pastoral letter until the current Omicron outbreak has passed.
A copy of the letter is available on the Ecology Justice and Peace Commission page on the Archdiocese of Wellington website: https://www.wn.catholic.org.nz/…/ejp-commission…/