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18-BISHOP-MARK-DAVIES

Christianity is critical to Britain’s future

Britain must choose between the darkness of moral relativism and the light of Christ, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury says in his Easter Sunday homily. (Full homily at end)

The crucial importance of Christianity to Britain’s future will be underlined by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury in his Easter homily.

Bishop Davies (above) is to speak during his homily  at Shrewsbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday of how Christian Faith has for centuries sustained and underpinned much of the common life of the nation and its laws and the highest aspirations of the British people. He will describe Christianity as a light which leads the way, and which will never fail to safely guide the country.

Without Christianity, society will be in danger of losing the knowledge of God and also of the value of human life, sense of human dignity and understanding of authentic human rights, the bishop will say.

He will note that the country has now reached a crossroads in its history when it is deciding if its laws and culture will be shaped by the enduring values of its historical Christian faith. He will tell the faithful that the country is faced with the choice of the light that has long guided its history or the darkness of being unable to truly distinguish between good and evil. Without Christianity, the bishop will ask, what instead will be able to defend the value of human life?

“Commentators have been puzzled that the Church and the Pope’s concern for the poorest is combined with an uncompromising defence of marriage as the union of man and woman; of the family as the vital unit of society; of the unborn routinely destroyed, frozen, manipulated for our purposes; and of the dignity of the aged threatened in many societies by a killing which calls itself ‘mercy’,” his homily points out. “It makes the question of what a human life is worth the most urgent question of our time. We can see this in the misuse of science or in legislators seeking to re-define the value of human life or to re-make marriage. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which followed the tragic events of the Second World War, recognised that human rights, including the right to life itself, are not something bestowed by parliaments and politicians, but belong to our human nature and are to be recognised and upheld by every state, every parliament.

“I believe we find at the root of all the attacks upon human life and dignity the loss of the truth of God. The Second Vatican Council reminded us: when God disappears from the horizons of our lives the absolute dignity of human life disappears as well. If the Christian roots of our society are finally severed what will be left to uphold human dignity, to protect human rights and the value of human life itself? It is not Christianity which stands at a ‘crossroads’, with the invidious choice of irrelevance or conforming to what both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict have described as a dictatorship of relativism, where nothing can be held as true. No, it is surely our country which stands at the crossroads in deciding on what the future of our life and laws will be based; what lights will guide the uncertain paths ahead; what roots will sustain the flourishing of generations to come?”

Full homily Easter Morning 2013,  at Shrewsbury Cathedral

The prolonged winter weather which has continued as far as Easter this year has led to concerns that our country may run out of energy. Headlines have warned of “Black Out Britain” if demand outstrip the supplies of those hidden energies, easily taken for granted which sustain the whole of modern life. On this Easter Sunday, I hope our country may also pause to consider another hidden energy, which to date we may also have taken for granted, which has sustained so much of our common life, our laws and the highest aspirations of our people: the Christian faith and hope. Something more than the flickering lights of our computer screens and televisions are in danger of being “blacked out” if we allow the light of this Christian faith and witness to fade in our country by ignorance of our history or by our sheer indifference.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has referred to a global need: “today,” he said, “amid so much darkness, we need to see the Light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others” (Mass for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry, 19th March 2013). This is surely the meaning of those simple gestures which have captured world attention in recent days. Pope Francis does not kiss babies in the manner of a campaigning politician or embrace the weakest and wash the feet of prisoners out of sentimentality. It is to a give witness to the hope of the Gospel, the hope of Easter morning, which declares the value and dignity of every human person. Pope Francis has preached this Gospel even without the help of words! This light must not dim or fade amongst us.

It was still dark, St. John is careful to note (John 20:1), when the women went to the tomb of Christ on the first Easter morning. They set out without any light or any hope, they could see nothing ahead and it seemed on that morning that death and sin had prevailed over God’s good purpose. At Easter last year, our Emeritus Pope Benedict spoke of the darkness which poses a real threat to humanity in which we: “cannot see where our own life is going,” cannot distinguish between good and evil. It is this darkness, Pope Benedict points out, that: “enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and the world in general.” (Easter Vigil 7th April 2012) If the difference between good and evil is obscured then all other “lights,” like our technical achievements, are capable of becoming dangers to us. And it was amid such darkness, when nothing seemed clear, that the women and the apostles came to “see and believe” (John 20 8 ) in the light of an event which has changed all of our history. In Christ’s Resurrection each came to recognise and believe in God’s eternal purpose for us.

Commentators have been puzzled that the Church and the Pope’s concern for the poorest is combined with an uncompromising defence of marriage as the union of man and woman; of the family as the vital unit of society; of the unborn routinely destroyed, frozen, manipulated for our purposes; and of the dignity of the aged threatened in many societies by a killing which calls itself “mercy.” It makes the question of what a human life is worth the most urgent question of our time. We can see this in the misuse of science or in legislators seeking to re-define the value of human life or to re-make marriage. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which followed the tragic events of the Second World War, recognised that human rights, including the right to life itself, are not something bestowed by parliaments and politicians, but belong to our human nature and are to be recognised and upheld by every state, every parliament.

I believe we find at the root of all the attacks upon human life and dignity the loss of the truth of God. The Second Vatican Council reminded us: when God disappears from the horizons of our lives the absolute dignity of human life disappears as well. If the Christian roots of our society are finally severed what will be left to uphold human dignity, to protect human rights and the value of human life itself? It is not Christianity which stands at a “cross-roads,” with the invidious choice of irrelevance or conforming to what both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict have described as a dictatorship of relativism, where nothing can be held as true. No, it is surely our country which stands at the cross-roads in deciding on what the future of our life and laws will be based; what lights will guide the uncertain paths ahead; what roots will sustain the flourishing of generations to come?

It was significant that Pope Francis has spoken of our duty to protect: to protect each other, to protect the creation, to protect God’s plan: “be protectors of God’s gifts!” he urged us. Being a “protector” of what is good belongs not to Christians alone, the Holy Father explained, “it also has a prior dimension, which is simply human, involving everyone” (Mass for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry, 19th March 2013). On this Easter day, Christians renew the promises of their Baptism and see and believe that we have been “brought back to true life with Christ” (Col.3:1). We declare the joy of the Resurrection renews the whole world. Let us pray that our society, anxious to preserve the supplies of energy lest our lights one day go out, may also be concerned to preserve a greater gift, to protect the Christian inheritance of faith and values which have long been a light and inspiration for our people. This Light will never fail us, as we declared in the darkness of this Cathedral Church last night, it is: “Christ your Son who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.” (Exsultet of the Easter Vigil).

 

 

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