A sanctuary in the city
Just a few kilometres from central Wellington is an extraordinary sanctuary – Zealandia – where dozens of endangered New Zealand species thrive. What makes it a sanctuary is the mesh fence that surrounds it, bending sharply outwards at the top and sitting deeply under the ground to keep out climbing and burrowing predators. Within Zealandia’s freedom, life doesn’t just flourish but kaka and tui also fly out to nest and sing all around the city.
The nature of law
Zealandia is an analogy of what Christian law should be – not a prison that confines, but a place of safety to escape to, somewhere you can start living your life in a new way. Jesus stressed that he didn’t come to earth to do away with the law but to fulfil it. For Zacchaeus (Lk 19.1-10) and the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8.3-11), Jesus deleted sinful pasts by opening up new futures full of hope.
At its best, Catholic faith kept this vision. St Thomas Aquinas, a great scholar and defender of tradition, pointed out that while the general principles of Christian law don’t change, the more difficult the situation, the greater the wisdom and latitude needed to correctly apply them. Sadly, when the Church felt it was being attacked it often ramped up its laws to defend its members.
A Pope’s vision
Pope Francis, shaped by forty years of hands-on ministry with the poor of Buenos Aires, is deeply aware of the sins of our world. He knows it’s pointless to chastise people for their broken families and addictions; they already live with these burdens. What he brings instead are mercy and love, in word and gesture, and also by providing shelters, jobs, and food. Bringing hope to people’s lives, he welcomes them to living faith.
Catholics are called to live with law, but most of all by the laws of mercy, love and justice
Father Neil Vaney
This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 1, ‘Life Of Faith’ referencing pages 5 – 6. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 2’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.