About 1990 in widespread consultation among all sections of the people of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch a survey indicated that there was a clear consensus about the pastoral priorities for this local church (i.e. diocese).
Bishop John Cunneen has adopted these as priorites within the Diocese. The Pastoral Priorities do not replace the Pastoral Principles indicated in the Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Christchurch.
The fact that so many New Zealanders live in abject spiritual poverty, not knowing a personal God, without experience of the Father's love revealed in Jesus Christ, must surely call forth our active compassion (Mt 9, 35-36.). Even more pressing is the love and care we owe to those, often members of our own family or friends, who have left off the practice of the faith and no longer follow Christ as active members of his Church.
2) CATHOLIC EDUCATION
An authentic education is the faithful and continuous teaching of the truths revealed by God in Jesus Christ by the light of the Holy Spirit and handed on unfailingly by the Catholic Church. Only with such an education will people have the knowledge given by God which is the beginning of salvation (Jn. 17, 3); only then will they be empowered to witness to Jesus Christ in a world which is deafened by an explosion of noise and information.
3) MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
A satisfactory family life growing out of a good marriage is the context in which a person can best achieve development as a human being and maturity as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a primary responsibility of the Church to uphold Christian marriage and family life in its teaching and practice. Neither the difficulty of the task nor the widespread negative attitudes in society today can excuse us from this effort which is necessary for human well-being, for the future of society, and for the true destiny of human beings.
In every person's life, the time of youth is a period of special importance. The decisions made then, the friendships formed then, the values chosen then, the goals set then - not only shape a person's personal future but have an impact on society's future as well. Christ the Good Shepherd sees so many young people throwing away their lives in a flight into irresponsibility and falsehood. Drug and alcohol abuse, pornography and sexual disorder, violence: these are grave social problems which call for a social response from the whole of society ... (Pope John Paul II).
Reflecting the Church's fundamental principle of subsidiarity, much of the work and focus on these priorities is at parish level and by religious orders, because they are so much closer to the people. However in a number of cases the Bishop has established, at diocesan level, agencies and trusts that can support and facilitate this work.