Church says New Zealand voters will heed Pope on civil unions

The Catholic Church in New Zealand says Pope Benedict XVI's message about the sanctity of marriage will impact voters in the upcoming general election, reported RNZ/one news.

During a recent speech to ambassadors to the Vatican, including New Zealand's new ambassador Geoffrey Ward, Pope Benedict warned against “secular distortions of marriage.”

"New Zealanders traditionally have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of their society,” the Pope said in his speech.

"They appreciate that secular distortions of marriage can never overshadow the splendor of a life-long covenant based on generous self-giving and unconditional love. Correct reason tells them that the future of humanity passes by way of the family."

The message is a call to people to reflect on things like the civil union bill, Catholic Church spokesperson Lyndsay Freer reportedly told RNZ.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has said in a statement that she has great respect for the Pope, but she does not agree with him on this matter.

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