NZ Catholics threaten Labour over Civil Unions Bill
The Hamilton Diocese crossed swords with New Zealand Labour MPs this week, warning the Government could expect its vote from Catholics to languish should legislation to give homosexual relationships the same legal status as marriage be passed.
MPs on the justice and electoral select committee listened yesterday to submissions on the Civil Unions Bill.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the Labour members of the committee received a warning from the Church when Hamilton diocese member Tom Purcell said the church's support of Labour was once "as sacred as marriage".
In June, Cardinal Thomas Williams of Wellington described the country's Civil Union Bill as part of the erosion of values that is turning New Zealand into a "moral wasteland". He likened reforming politicians to "modern barbarians" who aim to "tear down existing standards, and to debase ideals that have come to characterise a society built on sound moral principle".
This week, when Act MP Stephen Franks asked how important the bill was in terms of Catholic voting, Mr Purcell said the impact on the vote would be enormous.
He said the bill was the most important piece of legislation of his lifetime.
"This bill is much more important to the whole of society than whether we joined Britain and went to war with Hitler."
Peter Richardson, a Catholic lay person said the bill "cuts to the core of what we are about as individuals and as family".
"My message to the Labour members of this select committee is that you did not have the mandate to undertake the social engineering that you have been."
As he finished his warning, Lianne Dalziel said: "Well the Catholic Church has got a lot to answer for."
Several other churches and Christian groups also opposed the bill, warning marriage was the very fabric of society and had existed long before the State, and accusing the State of social engineering.
Catholics say Civil Unions Bill puts Labour vote in jeopardy (NZ Herald 28/9/04)
Catholic Diocese of Hamilton
NZ gay law 'to make moral wasteland' (CathNews 29/6/04)
Cardinal Thomas Williams: Barbarians at the gate jib at Judaeo-Christian ethic (New Zealand Herald 28/6/04)
Catholic Leader Sees 'Moral Wasteland' Resulting From Liberal Policies (CNSnews.com 28/6/04)
Civil Union Bill
NZ Becoming 'A Moral Wasteland' (Newstalk ZB/XtraMSN 26/6/04)
Being Gay and Catholic (GayNZ.com)
Catholic Church in New Zealand
30 Sep 2004