by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — Labour Party leader David Cunliffe spoke at Mass in Auckland early this month.
But he apparently won’t be the only one.
At the 11.30am Samoan Malaeola Mass in Mangere on August 3, a Labour Party group arrived. Members of the party included Labour Party leader David Cunliffe, Mangere MP Su’a William Sio, and Manurewa MP Louisa Wall.
At the end of Mass, at notices time but before the final blessing, Mr Cunliffe spoke to the congregation from the foot of the altar.
The August 3 TV3 evening news bulletin said Mr Cunliffe attended the Mass to ensure the Pacific vote stayed with Labour.
NZ Catholic left a message for Mass celebrant and Samoan community chaplain Fr Michael Endemann on August 4, hoping to talk to him about Mr Cunliffe’s talk. However, Monday is a day off for priests and Fr Endemann had not returned the call by press time the same day.
A person who was present said it would have been better if Mr Cunliffe had not spoken until after the final blessing and Fr Endemann had left the altar.
The communication spokesperson for Auckland diocese, Lyndsay Freer, told NZ Catholic that Malaeola did not want to be politically partisan in any way. “They have invited John Key next month,” she said.
The Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, advised NZ Catholic that once the monthly Mass is ended at Malaeola the whole area is “rearranged” for lunch — that is, visitors are invited to speak at the usual time for notices, not once Mass is ended.
Fr Endemann also made it very clear, the bishop stated, that people must make up their own minds about how to vote.
“That is, the Church does not endorse any one particular party. MPs from various parties are often given the chance to say hello when attending Mass at Malaeola,” Bishop Dunn stated.