Christmas – a Time to Care for Those Most Vulnerable

Press Release – Anglican Diocese of Auckland

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland says the Christmas season invites us to think about the vulnerability of children in New Zealand society and how communities can act to protect them and enhance their wellbeing.ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF AUCKLAND

MEDIA RELEASE – 20 December 2011

Christmas – a Time to Care for Those Most Vulnerable

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland says the Christmas season invites us to think about the vulnerability of children in New Zealand society and how communities can act to protect them and enhance their wellbeing.

In a speech given to the Auckland Rotary Club yesterday, The Right Reverend Ross Bay says the festival of Christmas invites reflection on the meaning of the birth of Jesus in order to prompt action as we seek to contribute to a better future for our children.

The Anglican Bishop says that manger scenes and Christmas cards can somewhat sentimentalise the birth of Jesus. He says the birth was anything but royal; it was to working class folk in a stable among animals, not in a palace surrounded by midwives and attendants.

The actual picture is one of great vulnerability says Bishop Ross. ‘It was a dangerous journey to Bethlehem right at the time that Mary was due to give birth, with little hospitality given to people who were in great need, and then the child’s life was under threat from a political system wanting to protect itself.’

Bishop Ross says too many children are vulnerable in New Zealand to poverty and abuse. While there is no agreed objective measure of poverty in New Zealand, one measure would suggest that 230,000 children live in a situation of deprivation through poor health, diet, schooling, housing, and so on. That’s one in five NZ children. Bishop Ross says, ‘It’s easy just to blame parents and families but statistics like that suggest there are more complex systemic issues at play and those are sobering thoughts for a festive season.’

The Bishop says that communities must take responsibility for the wellbeing of children, but that systemic issues which trap people in poverty must be addressed by Government. He is encouraging people to consider how they could participate in the work which will be done by the Ministerial Committee on Poverty being established as part of a strategy to combat poverty. He welcomes the initiative and looks forward to its first report in the middle of next year.

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