In the latest NZ Catholic there are statements from the main political parties. It makes for very interesting reading indeed.
The nine major NZ political parties were asked to submit statements that met the following conditions:
no longer than 300 words
explain why the readers of NZ Catholic should vote for their party
written by a candidate who is Catholic or of another Christian denomination (if this is not possible statements would still be accepted from the party)
the religious affliation of the writer should be submitted for publication
Of the nine parties contacted, seven replied. There was no reply from NZ First or Labour. Disappointing. They have certainly missed an opportunity.
I've scanned each party's submission, specifically looking for references to Christian or Catholic teaching and this is what I see…
The Greens chose Mojo Mathers to submit for them. She identifies herself as Christian and says she believes "in the Christianity that teaches love and compassion towards each other, espeially for our most vulnerable. I believe in the Christianity that demands we live with justice between one another, not growing inequality. Finally I believe in the Christianity that teaches awe and deep respect for the natural world – a faith that says tread sacredly through nature because God walked here first, incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ." She is the only candidate to mention Jesus by name.
Te Ururoa Flavell submitted on behalf of the Maori Party. He doesn't identify that belongs to any Christian faith and he doesn't mention Christianity or Catholicism in his submission. It is about what the Maori Party have achieved and what they still wish to achieve for Maori, but there is no Christian "slant" anywhere.
Peter Dunne writes on behalf of United Future. Again, he doesn't mention his own Christian background or reference Christianity in any way. Most of his submission is about "family" – "the family is the primary unit for a sustainable society". He also says that they are a party "that stands up for our values". But, no specific mention of Christian beliefs guiding what they do.
Simon O'Connor writes for the National Party. He references Catholicism specifically – "[a vote for National is] a vote in alignment with a full understanding of Catholic social teaching". He then goes on to talk about several aspects of Catholic Social Teaching (common good, care for the environment, community support, human potential and dignity) and the specific things National has accomplished in these areas. Very, very clever.
Mr Colin Craig himself wrote on behalf of the Conservatives. Surprisingly, there is no mention of Mr Craig's Christian beliefs, or indeed Christianity at all. The only small reference is to "chruch teachings" that "absolutely without doubt a society that does not support the natural family is a society that will decline". He also reminds us that they were the only party to campaign against same-sex marriage and that it was "our priviledge to do so".
Ian Cummings submitted on behalf of the Act Party. His is perhaps the most overtly Christian submission. He begins by saying, "As a Christian and budding politician, I take the claims of Our Lord seriously" and goes on to tell us that he brings a "distinctly Christian flavour" to Act. He also says that when he went to the Act Board to ask for a place on the party list he made his positions on abortion and welfare very clear and was delighted to still be accepted as a list candidate – number nine. He writes, "Catholics make up 10 per cent of the population, so we can make a huge difference this election. We can make this election a game changer."
The Mana Party was represented by Hone Harawera, who celverly quotes Pope Francis in his second paragraph: "Pope Francis once said that 'the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be.'" He goes on to talk about how Mana would make this a reality. He references Ash Wednesday and Caritas. He finishes by saying, "It is true that no political party can claim to represent all the Church's teachings, and in this light I'm grateful for the opportunity to share some of Mana's values with NZ Catholic. God bless.
So there you have it – my personal round-up of what the seven parties who responded had to say through a Christian lense. Don't say I don't do anything for you.