|Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury Defends Marriage|
Bishop Kieran Conry has asked Catholics to pray for the Holy Father. That's the first good thing. It is a joyous thing when we hear Bishops making statements of loyalty and fidelity to the Pope, saying something to encourage us all to pray for the Holy Father, in the UK, in the wake of last year's visit, especially in times when so many Catholics feel as if the Bishops Conference does not feel passionately enough about the defense of the Successor of St Peter. Well done, my Lord!
Meanwhile, Bishop Mark Davies, our youngest Bishops, at the age of 51, has encouraged Catholics to stand up for Christian marriage. As The Catholic Herald reports...
Bishop Davies, who became Bishop of Shrewsbury in October, also praised Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary and a Catholic, for finding the courage to speak out in defence of the institution.
“Awkward as it might be I want to speak of the importance of standing up as witnesses to marriage,” the bishop told a congregation gathered for the Diocesan Celebration of Marriage in St Columba’s church, Chester.
“It is heartening to hear a senior politician this week urge politicians of all parties to speak up for marriage at a time when we’re told almost half of children in our country are not being born in homes founded on the stability of marriage,” he said. “Yet, despite all the benefits which marriage offers for the well-being of children and society, that our leaders in public life might be reluctant to speak up for marriage tells us something of the state we are in.
“And so we need to remind ourselves of what the Second Vatican Council taught half a century ago, which stands for us today: ‘The wellbeing of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of marriage and family life’.”
He continued: “We have to confess that the situation within the Catholic community often differs little from these disturbing patterns within society as a whole. The good news of marriage has not always been heard or received even amongst us. The substitution of ‘partnerships’ which are not from their foundation faithful, lasting or open to the procreation and education can never replace the plan of God himself.”
Bishop Davies then quoted the conciliar document Gaudium et Spes to emphasise that “God himself is the author of marriage” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to stress that most men and women have a vocation to marriage. Finally, he reminded worshippers that the Catholic Church believed that Jesus Christ himself had elevated marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. Bishop Davies said: “Today I wish to thank each of you for not only speaking up for marriage but standing up as witnesses to marriage. For it is often fear which holds couples back from making those promises: ‘For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part’.
“In this we don’t set out to condemn but to offer hope in the way St Francis de Sales memorably described: people will always respond more to a spoonful of honey than a barrel full of vinegar. Today you are that spoonful of honey, that hope for the Church and society represented in your own lives, never without difficulties or human frailties, but witnessing to a love which is faithful, lasting and open to the gift of life and family.”
Aged just 51, the Manchester-born bishop is the youngest of all of the bishops of England and Wales. Formerly a priest of the Salford diocese, he served as private secretary to the then Bishop Patrick Kelly before becoming vicar general.
In February last year he was ordained coadjutor Bishop of Shrewsbury with right to succeed Bishop Brian Noble when he retired in the autumn. Bishop Davies’s homily on marriage came at the conclusion of National Marriage Week and just days after Mr Duncan Smith gave a speech in which he described marriage as a “fundamental” institution, criticising fellow politicians who over the years had “frowned” at its mention.
Well done, my Lord! Wouldn't it just be so wonderful if one of our English Bishops publicly began celebrating the Mass in the Extraordinary Form? Oh, that would be so wonderful! Can you imagine the parties in some parishes?