Wellington Cardinal John Dew emphasised Pope Francis’ solicitude for indigenous peoples at a celebration of the 13th anniversary of Māori King Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII’s coronation.

Cardinal Dew, who was invited to preach at the multi-denominational service part of the celebration on August 20, said a report of the meeting between Pope Francis and King Tuheitia a few weeks ago pointed to the warmth and sense of connection the two had with each other.

“The Pope and the King spoke about issues pertaining to indigenous peoples and issues for Māori. I believe that it is true that Pope Francis is in tune with issues that face indigenous peoples throughout the world today,” Cardinal Dew said.

He said Pope Francis recently released a video clip wherein the Pontiff highlighted the threats to indigenous peoples’ identities and very existence and how individualism weakens community bonds.

“We know that it is true. When people think only of themselves, society suffers. Their own community suffer, family suffer,” the cardinal said.

“We need one another and that is what the Kiingitanga does. As Pope Francis and King Tuheitia met in Rome and found common ground and understanding, so we meet together here today at Turangawaewae, building our relationships and continuing to find a common ground,” he added.

Cardinal Dew said 33 years ago St Pope John Paul II noted that the strengths of Māori values are the values that modern society is in danger of losing.

“An acknowledgement of the spiritual dimension of every aspect of life, a profound reverence for nature and the environment, a sense of community, assuring every individual that he or she belongs, loyalty to a family and a great willingness to share, an acceptance of death as part of life and the capacity to grieve and mourn the dead in a human way: they are the values of Māori,” the cardinal said.

“These are the issues which people of every faith are also concerned
about.”

Cardinal Dew said King Tuheitia last year had a simple but profound message: “Be kind to one another. Be strong and look after yourselves.”

“Those words of King Tuheitia could well have been taken from the Gospel,” he said. “They’re words of the Gospel today, which we commonly refer to as the Beatitudes.”

Cardinal Dew spoke on mercy and compassion, noting that Pope Francis describes the Beatitudes as the Christian’s identity card, a life plan for holiness.

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