Catholic bishops oppose extension of Easter trading

New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops strongly support Dunedin Bishop Colin Campbell’s opposition to extending Easter trading hours in the Waitaki district.

Bishop Campbell has written to MPs to ask that they maintain Parliament’s tradition of rejecting further changes to Easter trading by using their conscience vote against the Shop Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill, due to have its first reading today.

“Obviously, allowing trading on Good Friday and Eater Sunday would undermine New Zealand’s Christian traditions. However, while the three and a half shop-free days remain significant holy days for many New Zealanders, their significance extends beyond religion,” said Bishop Campbell.

“These holidays have become times for family and community groups to gather, hold events or rest, opportunities which are becoming increasingly rare. If this current Waitaki Easter Trading Bill gets passed, it would come at the expense of family and community time and simply be another step towards opening up Easter trading throughout New Zealand”.

The bishops’ social justice agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has also written to MPs asking them to oppose the Bill. Caritas has made submissions on the subject during the numerous reviews and Private Member’s Bills which have unsuccessfully reopened the debate 10 times in the past 20 years.

“Time and time again churches and various other community groups have been forced to defend keeping three and a half days a year shop-free,” says Bishop Campbell. “This is despite numerous conscience votes from Members of Parliament who support limiting shopping days to 361 and a half a year”.