The Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Colin
Campbell, received "nasty" emails after he urged Catholics to
oppose a new abortion clinic for Invercargill.
More than 8000 parishioners across the Otago and Southland
diocese yesterday were read a letter from the bishop saying
Catholics were opposed to abortion and "we must do all we can
to prevent this culture of death spreading in our country".
Bishop Campbell said he had emails supportive of his stance.
"But I have received some nasty emails too, and some are
He declined to talk about the exact contents, saying only "I
would describe them as offensive".
"The unfortunate thing about this is that the people think
this is just a religious thing, but it not just a religious
"It is a human matter.
"It is not just a woman's life ... There are two lives
Bishop Campbell said those opposing the church's stance
tended to argue that as abortion was legal "they seem to
presume that [abortion] is moral, where in fact that is not
"This is taking the life of an unborn child," he said.
By opposing the Southern District Health Board's plan to
establish the Invercargill abortion service, it could
potentially stop the "spread" of abortions to Dunedin and
elsewhere, he said.
"We don't believe [abortion] should be anywhere."
He intended to write to the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall,
to express his concern over the board's decision, and
campaigners were also seeking a ruling from the Ombudsman.
Some Invercargill medical practitioners were unhappy with the
decision, and the bishop cited the decision of a senior
pediatrician at Southland Hospital, Dr Vili Sotutu, who
tendered his resignation last month in protest.
Western Southland parish priest Father Vaughan Leslie said
people were not surprised by the contents of the letter
"because it's no surprise to Catholics what the church
teaches on abortion".
However, parishioners might have been surprised by the
directness of the letter, which stressed the view the board
and management were in error, he said.
"There would have been some board members sitting in
congregations this weekend hearing the letter, so I would be
most interested to have watched them if I was reading it."
One of those SDHB members, Tim Ward, said the contents of the
letter were unlikely to put him off attending Mass.
"Since this first came to light, I have had a number of
discussions with people both in a church environment and
outside of church, and a lot of people understand the
position of the SDHB."