The Catholic Parish of Otaki and  Levin

Faith Communities of Otaki, Levin and Kuku

To: The Right Honorable Bill English                  December 20, 2017



Nga mihi, and warm congratulations on your becoming our new Prime Minister.

We write to you as fellow Catholic Christians. We recognise that you (and your wife Mary) are strongly committed in your Catholic faith. As Catholics we are informed by the teachings of the Church, and the guidance given by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

A member of our parish has recently attended a meeting of ‘World Popular Movements’ called by Pope Francis. At this meeting the Pope re-iterated his urgent call for all of us (Catholics and non- Catholics alike) to find real, meaningful ways to respond to the distress of the poorest members our human family, and the distress of our environment. In particular, he suggests that the root cause of the distress lies with the ‘idolatry of money’ which tyrannises people, and destroys the environment.

We appreciate that to help the poor, one of your aims is to grow the economy. And yet, here lies the danger pointed out by Pope Francis. When we encourage the pursuit of profit only, then the poor and the environment suffer. Furthermore, those gaining the profit (at the expense of others) lose some of their humanity. We all stand to lose. We note with great concern the growing gap between the extremely wealthy, and everybody else, both globally, and within New Zealand. As a politician you will be concerned that such inequalities negatively affect society as a whole. As a Catholic politician you are called to work to improve the lives of the poorest.

For starters, you could declare the growing inequality unacceptable, and socially harmful, and make a stated goal of your government to reduce the inequalities.

We suggest that moves could be made to create the expectation that all economic activities ought to generate social and/or environmental benefits as part of their outcomes, rather than be measured merely on the basis of profit only. These wider ‘social goods’ have been incorporated into a number of domestic and international business organisations, including iwi-based enterprises. Their model should perhaps be promoted as the ‘norm’ for businesses, rather than seen as the exception.

Overall, we urge you to keep the social teaching of the Church, and of Pope Francis foremost in mind as you lead the country. This social teaching tells us that the poor are our main concern. As Jesus tells us: “When you did these things for the very least, you did it for me.” The call is for all of us to build a more compassionate society, which is guided by love for people, not love of money.

You have the opportunity now to prove that you, and the National government are not in power merely to serve the rich.

We are praying for you and your government: to lead wisely, compassionately and courageously, in the spirit of Pope Francis.



Yours in Christ, parishioners of Ss Mary and Joseph, Otaki and Levin



Fellow Parishioners,

I wrote this letter as a result of a discussion with members of our Otaki congregation, following my attending the meeting in Rome (see letter).


IF you wish to have your name included on the letter, then either sign the page here, OR, if you want more time to think about it, please take a copy, have a read, and if you want your name added to the letter, then email me:


Many thanks, Forrest Chambers Otaki