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Bishops' Messages – Covid-19

Messages below are from Bishop Paul or the NZ Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Paul has provided a number of video messages and these can be found on our Facebook page

NZ Bishops’ Easter Pastoral Letter

April 12, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

Kia tau te rangimārie kia koutou – Peace be with you

It was in the evening of the first Easter day, while the disciples were locked down in fear, that suddenly the risen Christ stood before them in the closed room and said, “Peace be with you” and showed them his hands and his side.

His greeting of peace is what we share with you on this Easter day knowing that Jesus has triumphed over the lockdown of the tomb and as the risen Christ stands among us, in lockdown, offering us his peace.

Our Easter, lived and celebrated in lockdown, has been one like we have never experienced before. We have felt the pain of not being able to celebrate together the Easter liturgies in our local churches. Some of you were looking forward to being baptised or received into the Church at Easter and this is yet to happen.

The future, for many, appears uncertain or even dire. In the meantime, we are continuing to have the tomb experience of being locked down at home and we know, for many families, that this situation is becoming difficult and stressful.

Despite these trials, many of you have connected with the events of the Easter days in new ways and gained new insights. We have been delighted to see how families and communities have been so innovative in praying at home and connecting to others through the phone or social media. Your living and sharing your faith in this time has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to many other people.

In the midst of this lockdown we, as a nation, have realised that we have been seduced by busyness, the pursuit of trivial things and of taking for granted the important things of life. People have enjoyed this slowing time. People have noticed families doing things together. The world has become quieter and we have noticed the beauty of nature. This time has proved to be a reflective time enabling us to refocus or revision ourselves and how we live.

This Easter, with Jesus, we have been offered the opportunity to die to self, and rise again to a new beginning. Our hope and prayer is that when we leave the tomb of lockdown, we will work together as a community to build a better Church and society.

Our hope is that we will all be stronger in our relationships with one another and in our appreciation of the gift of life. Our hope is for a society that is not driven by profiteering but works for the common good as we together rebuild our nation’s economy. Our hope is that we will be a society that is more aware of the tangible presence of God who journeys with us on the paths of life. Our hope for the Church is that we will be more ardent in our faith, hope, love and service.

At Easter we journey from death to life. May your rising from this Easter and our time of lockdown be marked by the peace and joy of the risen Christ who walks with us on paths of life.

Yours in Christ,

✠ Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President
✠ Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton and NZCBC Secretary
✠ John Dew, Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington, NZCBC Vice President
✠ Paul Martin SM, Bishop of Christchurch
✠ Michael Dooley, Bishop of Dunedin
✠ Michael Gielen, Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland

20 March 2020

Bishop Paul’s Letter to the Catholic community

Dear Members of the Catholic community

You will have read the public statement of the Bishops of New Zealand regarding the suspension of all Masses in the country from 20 March. It was not an easy decision to make knowing as we do that the Eucharist is at the heart of our Catholic life. We are acutely aware of the sacrifice this will be for many of us. However we also know that we need to play our part as good citizens and to support what is being asked of us by the government and the medical authorities. The COVID-19 epidemic is serious and so we want to do all we can to stop the spread of this disease.

Since public Masses are now suspended in the diocese I am dispensing all Catholics in the diocese from their obligation to attend a Sunday Mass. This is in accordance with Canon 1248. This will remain until such time as we are able to resume the public celebration of the Eucharist.

It is very important that we use this time to deepen our spiritual life and to pray for each other, those who are sick and in need. It is also important that we nourish our faith life even more than we might have previously. It is one of the hopes of our new pastoral initiatives that the spiritual life of each of us will be deepened by more personal prayer, reflection, spiritual reading, praying of the rosary and other traditional faith practices of the Church. I would encourage you to gather together as a household on Sunday to reflect on the scriptures and to find ways of worship. There will be resources made available to help you in this on our diocesan website.

One aspect of this will include livestreaming of Masses so that you can participate in this way. The priests of the diocese will continue to offer private Masses for the intentions of the people and for the eradication of this virus.

Our churches will remain open for prayer and for the Sacrament of Reconciliation where possible. Each parish will work out the logistics around this and keeping the necessary social distances as outlined by the Ministry of Health.

We have moved into uncharted territory in terms of this pandemic and it is challenging for us all. It is important that we continue to look out for each other, especially the elderly and those who might be alone, that we maintain contact with each other appropriately and ensure that all are cared for. This is our Christian duty.

This will certainly be a different Lent than we have ever experienced before. But we are people who believe in a God who loves us and in whom we trust, through all the stages of life and whatever might happen. Let us place our trust in Him, pray for strength and courage as we face these challenges and not let fear rule our heart. As the scriptures tell us ‘do not be afraid’. This time will allow us to find new ways of being a church community and of being united in our faith.

Be assured of my prayers for you all.

Yours in Christ

+ Paul Martin S.M.

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NZCBC Pastoral Letter
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