NZ Cardinal denies conclave lobbying

In a wide-ranging interview with the National Catholic Reporter's John Allen, Wellington's retired Cardinal Thomas Williams has revealed some details about behind the scenes machinations at last April's conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

"There were no blocks or lobbying, and no tone of 'don't vote for x'," Cardinal Williams tole Allen.

The comments fly in the face of reports that Cardinal George Pell was the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's "numbers man".

He continued: "Coming in, I didn't know what to expect. I suppose I thought that my vote is as good as anyone else's, even if I am a country yokel, so if there is a question of garnering votes, I thought, well, mine is as valuable as anyone else's. I would drive a hard bargain. Yet I would say that the ethos against lobbying really was observed."

The interview also included Cardinal Williams views on the evangelisation of New Zealand's Maori population, which he says did not go as well as is might have, because the French missionaries did not recognise the importance of inculturation of the Gospel.

He said: "The evangelisation of the Maori has been largely ineffective because of the lack of inculturation. The missionaries were French, and they brought the Roman rite celebrated in Latin."

He contrasted this situation with that which exists in Samoa.

"The late Samoan Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u related a Samoan ceremony called the kava to the Eucharist," he said.

In other news from New Zealand, Christchurch's Bishop John Cunneen has unveiled a new pastoral strategy for his diocese, grouping parishes into 11 pastoral areas.

NZ Catholic reports that the plan was announced last week, following discussion and consultation over several years, including an initiative called Looking to Our Future and an attempt to form parishes into clusters.

Parishes and Church agencies, including schools, in each area will be encouraged to work collectively and collaboratively, using personnel, buildings and other resources for best effect.

"The way forward will require courage from us all, bishops, priests and people," Bishop Cunneen said.

John L Allen: Interview with New Zealand Cardinal Thomas Williams (National Catholic Reporter 24/2/06)
Christchurch pastoral plan released (NZ Catholic)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in New Zealand

Catholic Church launches new plan (The Press 25/2/05)
Allen: Church faces three "megachallenges" (NZ Catholic 24/2/06)

27 Feb 2006