Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations win two awards

The Committee was awarded one of nine annual diversity awards by the Human Rights Commission acknowledging individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme through projects and programmes.

“I was delighted to receive the award on behalf of all of the Bishops and the members of the Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations. The work that we do is wholly collaborative and so this award acknowledges the many others who’ve shown willingness and commitment to enter into these relationships and conversations with us,” says Nick Borthwick, deputy chair of the NZ Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations.

This award comes just a month after the Committee received the Pearl of Islands Dialogue Award from the Pearl of Islands Foundation – a Turkish cultural organisation in New Zealand which promotes inter-cultural dialogue, religious values and social harmony.

“Dialogue with the Pearl of Islands Foundation is a privileged place of Muslim-Christian relations in the Growing Diversity of New Zealand.” Says Sr Catherine Jones, smsm, Chair of the Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations.

“The Committee’s task is to work with other Catholics to promote interfaith relations with believers of other world religions in New Zealand, this is often intertwined with intercultural relations. We work to foster relationships that are personal, communal and national,” says Mr Borthwick.

“Our activities are very often about practical support, such as visiting families, helping with refugee resettlement, reforestation projects, taking part in festivals and cultural and religious celebrations – sharing hospitality,” says Nick Borthwick.

“There has also been an exploration together on working for peace, becoming a compassionate society, promoting a consistent ethic of life, and supporting the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in its programmes against family violence,” he says.

“We believe we cannot do this alone, we rely on God’s help, recognising that each faith community will relate to God in its own way,” he says.

“Sometimes it’s appropriate to come together to pray for example in a time of disaster after the Canterbury earthquakes and the Japanese tsunami, for peace and healing in our country and throughout the world.” He says.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations was established in 2009 and is a nationwide body, with members chosen from throughout the country.

Current members:

  • Sr Catherine Jones smsm, Wellington, (Chair)
  • Mr Nick Borthwick, Wellington (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr Mary Eastham, Palmerston North
  • Mr Carlo David, Auckland
  • Rev. Kevin Toomey OP, Dunedin
  • Mr Colin MacLeod, Dunedin
  • Sr Bertha Hurley smsm, Christchurch
  • Mrs Sharron Cole, Wellington
  • Ms Adele Churchman, Timaru