Anglican and Catholic Bishops, May 2007

Catholic Archbishop John Dew and Anglican Bishop Richard Randerson endorsed the Statement on Religious Diversity by composing a joint statement of support for the work done on the Statement and for the Statement itself.

We are pleased to support the contributions of the Anglican and Catholic bishops on the National Statement on Religious Diversity for Aotearoa New Zealand and are satisfied with the outcome.

The Statement attempts to describe our realities as a multicultural and diverse community here in these islands. Statements on religious diversity are also statements on cultural diversity, and at a time when cultural diversity is increasing, working to develop a statement of this kind is both forward thinking and mindful of past foundations.

From our own faith position we cherish freedom of thought and freedom of religious expression, both for ourselves and for others. This is inherent in our understanding of the Christian Gospel, as a gift that is freely given, to be freely experienced and freely received in a climate of freedom itself. We refer to the first letter of Peter Chapter 2 v 16:

Live as free people, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honour all people. Love your faith community. Fear God, Honour the Emperor (meaning the Governing authority)

We also affirm the right of the church and other faith communities to challenge the state in the name of the values, ethics and justice issues that come from a faith based perspective , because of our belief that ruling authorities are also accountable to God ( Revelation 1:5), as are we all.

We celebrate the right to share our faith in this democracy, and we wish to reciprocate that right with other faiths. We believe this right is offered and guaranteed in what is commonly referred to as the fourth article of the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840, the founding document of our nation. In response to a question from Bishop Pompallier, Governor Hobson said he would protect and recognise not only major western religions, but also Maori customary beliefs and practices.

We also affirm that there is no state religion in our land and affirm that the protection and recognition outlined in the Treaty document are available to all without prejudice or special status.

Far from denying our Christian heritage, we affirm it and uphold it. We wish to affirm the central role that the Christian Gospel played in the founding of both the Treaty itself and in the religious heritage of this nation. We recognize that a simple majority of New Zealanders identify as Christian from the 2006 census, and note that this reflects the long story of Christian presence and faith sharing here from 1814 onwards within most of the major ethnic groups of our land.

We honour the life passion and commitment of the early missions which sought to witness to the grace and justice of the Christian gospel. We celebrate this heritage and commend this mission and its timeless message to this land we all share and love.

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