Bishops have full agenda for four-day NZCBC meeting

New Zealand's Catholic bishops met in Wellington last week from Monday 31 October to Thursday 3 November for a regular meeting of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

The bishops had a full agenda over their four-day meeting. Present were Cardinal John Dew (Archbishop of Wellington, NZCBC President and Apostolic Administrator of Palmerston North Diocese); Bishop Stephen Lowe (Bishop of Auckland, Apostolic Administrator of Hamilton Diocese, NZCBC Secretary/Vice President); Archbishop Paul Martin SM (Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington); Bishop of Dunedin Michael Dooley; Bishop of Christchurch Michael Gielen; Father Leonard Danvers (local Administrator of Hamilton Diocese); and Father Craig Butler (Local Administrator of Palmerston North Diocese).

Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa (Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand) and Father Giosuè Busti (Deputy Head of Mission, Apostolic Nunciature) attended the opening session as distinguished guests.

The bishops expressed gratitude to Archbishop Rugambwa for his work across what is the largest geographic area for a nunciature in the world-wide Church – many of the South Pacific island states as well as Aotearoa New Zealand. Archbishop Rugambwa, who recently visited Rome, shared the greetings and blessings of the Holy Father with the New Zealand bishops and the people under their pastoral care. The bishops stressed the importance of appointments of bishops to the dioceses of Palmerston North and Hamilton, which are currently without a bishop.

During their four-day meeting, conference members reflected on the latest Royal Commission on Abuse in Care hearing, and will hold a meeting next month to discuss matters that have arisen during the Royal Commission, including efforts to foster a survivor-centred response.

The bishops discussed and very much look forward to World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal 2023; the Synod of Bishops meetings in 2023 and 2024; and the Holy Year Jubilee 2025, a special year of grace for the Catholic Church, which will be the second for Pope Francis.

The meeting progressed plans for the assembly for diocesan priests to be held in the latter half of next year, with the theme Amorangi Tū Ake! Journeying together in our renewal of our Lord’s call. A firm date will be decided depending on the availability of speakers.

The bishops were pleased to welcome the Church’s new Te Rōpū Māori group to the meeting. Members of Te Rōpū Māori joined the bishops for a full day of the meeting to take part in agenda items of importance to Katorika Māori. Cardinal Dew said Te Rōpū Māori (The Māori Group) was recently formed to sit alongside the NZCBC in discussing and giving advice on matters of particular pastoral interest to Katorika Māori.

“The aim is that they provide a well-grounded voice for Katorika Māori and work in partnership with the NZCBC, embodying a more synodal way for the Church,” Cardinal Dew said.

Te Rōpū Māori’s inaugural delegates are from each of the six dioceses and include wahine and tane members: Manuel Beazley (Auckland), Father Gerard Paterson (Hamilton), Korty Wilson (Palmerston North), Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard (Wellington), Kathy Simmons (Christchurch) and Sharne Parkinson (Dunedin).

Cardinal Dew said Te Rōpū Māori was in its early stages. Its members would attend a scheduled meeting of the long-established Te Rūnanga o te Hāhi Katorika ki Aotearoa advisory group in February to reflect on refinements for the future.

Visitors during the four days included Mena Antonio, Chief Executive of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Kevin Shore, CEO, Catholic Education Office, Robert Blucher, the new CEO of Te Kupenga-Catholic Leadership Institute,  Fr Mathew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil, Rector, Holy Cross Seminary, Catherine Fyfe, Chair, Te Rōpū Tautoko, (the group that coordinates Church engagement with the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care), and members of the Latin Mass Society.

• Pictured at top: The bishops after Mass at a previous meeting of the NZCBC in Wellington.