Kiwi religious leaders define "robust society"

In the lead up to the country's election, New Zealand's religious leaders have issued a joint statement urging voters to make the most of the opportunity to determine the future shape of New Zealand society.

The group of leaders, which included Wellington's Catholic Archbishop John Dew, said that the period before an election represents "a unique opportunity to intensify discussion about the type of society we want to live in", and church leaders "welcome the opportunity".

In the remainder of the letter, they sought to highlight the "type of society they believe is worth striving for", which focused on the word "robust", which they said required "some explanation or qualification".

"The Latin origin adds another dimension to the understanding of robust - it is derived from robur meaning oak, a reference to a tree known for its sturdiness and vigorous growth," the said. "In our Christian tradition there is a parallel in the story of the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grew larger than any other plant and provided places for many birds nesting in its branches."

"To be robust our society must offer to everyone support and opportunity, shelter and freedom, resources and vision," they said.

Aside from Archbishop Dew, the letter was also signed by Anglican BishopMuru Walters, Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Garry Marquand, Methodist President Rev Ron Malpass, Baptist National Leader Rev Brian Winslade, and Salvation Army Territorial Commander Garth McKenzie.

Towards a Robust Society: A statement from New Zealand's Church Leaders (Catholic Communications 19/7/05)

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22 Jul 2005