WelCom October 2022
The Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have published new guidelines for the country’s 235 Catholic schools to support young people about sexual diversity.
The guidelines make it clear all young people in Catholic schools – including vulnerable rangatahi – are to be welcomed, supported and encouraged as they navigate their journey from childhood to adult and discover more who they are.
The guidelines, Aroha and Diversity in Catholic Schools, have been drafted by the Church’s National Centre for Religious Studies after comprehensive dialogue between the bishops, principals, national and diocesan Catholic education leaders and young people.
Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, Secretary and Vice President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, says the bishops are well aware of the need to support school leadership and rangatahi in navigating the complex reality of sexual diversity.
‘Young people today do not live in a bubble. They are aware, and inform themselves of the range of social, scientific, ideological and religious stances regarding this issue, and there is a lot of pressure and rhetoric about this issue. This challenges and can pressurise young people, their whānau, and schools and wider communities,’ says Bishop Lowe.
Bishop Lowe says the guidelines clearly articulate the rich teaching of the Catholic Church and provide practical information and tools to help schools make informed decisions about the support of rangatahi who are grappling with issues around sexual diversity in the complexities of our modern world.
‘All of us are made in the image of God, and called into authentic relationship with God, ourselves, each other and our world. Such relationships are never static, and our young people must navigate their own challenging and sacred journey from childhood to adulthood.
‘Our identities as adults take time to form, and vulnerable young people should not feel pushed or coerced to make decisions about themselves too soon. In the midst of their journey, the rangatahi in our schools deserve to be welcomed with aroha [love] and manaakitanga [respect, hospitality and care for others], and be encouraged to discover the beauty and wonder of themselves in a way that reflects Jesus’ words and actions of love, compassion and challenge.’
Approximately 66,000 students attend the 235 state-integrated Catholic schools in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Aroha and Diversity document is on the bishops’ website:
See Australia’s bishops’ guide for schools on identity and gender.