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NZ Bishops threaten Govt on gay union Bill

New Zealand's Catholic bishops have mounted a challenge to MPs supporting the country's Civil Union Bill, with a veiled warning of consequences at the ballot box.

The Dominion Post reports that an open letter will be read to congregations nationwide on Sunday, urging Catholics to note how MPs exercise their conscience vote today and vote accordingly.

Catholic bishops feel "obliged in conscience" to take the unprecedented step because of what they believed to be the "grave implications" of such a bill being passed, the church said.

In issuing the statement, the church has made it clear that MPs should not take its warning lightly - it is asserting that Catholics comprise 14% of the population.

The move comes as lobbying intensifies ahead of today's vote, which will determine whether the Civil Union Bill survives. If it does, Parliament will be put into urgency to rush the final vote through before Christmas.

The Bill gives legal recognition to same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

Catholic threat to Civil Union Bill (Dominion Post/ 2/12/04)

Bishops call on NZ Catholics to take MPs Civil Union vote into account at next General Election (Catholic Communications NZ 1/12/04)
Church attacks civil union bill (One News 16/4/04)
Catholic Church in New Zealand
NZ Catholics threaten Labour over Civil Unions Bill (CathNews 30/9/04)
Catholics say Civil Unions Bill puts Labour vote in jeopardy (NZ Herald 28/9/04)
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 ( 28/6/04)
NZ Becoming 'A Moral Wasteland' (Newstalk ZB/XtraMSN 26/6/04)
Maxim Institute
Civil Union Bill

2 Dec 2004