THE CATHOLIC HERALD APRIL 13 2012
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Bishop: Britain is at mercy of sinister ideas
Bishop Mark Davies says efforts to purge culture of Christianity leave us open to evil ideologies
BY DAVID V BARRETT
PEOPLE trying to reduce the influence of Christianity in Britain may open the way to sinister ideologies, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said.
In a hard-hitting Easter homily Bishop Davies attacked those who were undermining Britain’s Christ ian legal and cultural heritage, without which we will be “left at the mercy of passing political projects”. He accused “modernisers” of trying to turn the clock back to pre-Christian times.
Speaking in Shrewsbury cathedral, “a cathedral which has witnessed many chapters of England’s history”, the bishop said that Christ’s Resurrection has shed his peaceful l ight on all of humanity – but that “many of us uneasily recognise this Easter an effort to obscure, to place in shadow not only the Christian inheritance of this land but our very nature, our destiny and our ultimate good”. The last phrase echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s words in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, on his state visit to Britain in September 2010.
Bishop Davies quoted Blessed John Henry Newman on Christianity’s arrival in this country: “The fair form of Christianity rose up and grew and expanded like a beautiful pageant from north to south.” The influence of Christianity on Britain was so powerful that “he who recollected the old pagan time would think it unreal... so marvellously was heaven let down to earth,” said Cardinal Newman in 1850.
“Yet today we are becoming increasingly aware that there are those in leading positions within our society who wish to see history somehow reversed, who wish the very light which Christianity brought to these islands would recede,” said Bishop Davies.
“This is often done under the plausible intention of ‘modernising’, yet it is in reality an attempt to turn the clock back: as if the Gospel had never arrived in this land, never shaped its laws and culture and never formed the basis of our civilisation.
“They are sometimes called ‘anti-Christian’ as Christians do indeed suffer as a consequence of new laws and regulations.
“But in fact the mentality is ‘pre-Christian’. They see progress only in terms of moving this nation away from its Christian inheritance, from the very roots of its laws, its culture, its life,” Bishop Davies said.
Quoting Psalm 117, the bishop said “They wish to discard ‘the cornerstone’ on which so much good in our society has been built.”
He quoted Pope Benedict telling the Bundestag during his visit to Germany in September last year that it was from faith in God our Creator that the very idea of human rights and of equality
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury celebrates the Chrism Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral before the law arose, and that the inviolable dignity of every human person came to be recognised. “Otherwise, without such a foundation we would become subject to any passing ideology.”
The experience of the past century, he said, is that “the most poisonous ideologies have arisen within the Christian nations of Europe. Thus Nazism or Communism attempted to discard the
Christian inheritance of faith and morality as if i t had never existed.
They sought either to return to the pagan past or to ‘re-create’ and ‘redeem’ humanity by political will and ideology with terrible consequences.”
Bishop Davies concluded: “If Christianity is no longer to form the basis and the bedrock of our society then we are, indeed, left at the
Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk mercy of passing political projects and perhaps even the most sinister of ideologies.”
The blog of the Freethinker, which describes itself as “the voice of atheism since 1881”, said that Bishop Davies’s homily was the “most offensive Easter sermon of 2012”.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called it “ludicrous”.
Over 3,500 adults are received in England and Wales
BY DAVID V BARRETT
MORE THAN 3,500 adults were received into the Catholic Church in England and Wales last week.
They included 1,397 catechumens, who had prepared to be baptised, and 1,843 candidates, who had already baptised in another Christian tradition.
The largest numbers were in the dioceses of Westminster (734), Southwark (481), Brentwood (333), Birmingham (255) and Portsmouth (206). The total of 3,695 also included those who had joined the ordinariate. Easter is the traditional time for reception of new members of the Church through the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the liturgical and catechetical process for adults joining the Church.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, chairman of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said many of those who went through the RCIA said they first became interested in the Catholic Church through a family member or friend.
“So we should bear that in mind always in our dealings with people,” the bishop said. “We are all sowers of the seed. If we show ourselves to be happy, optimistic, humble and generous, then it’s more likely we will draw people to God and be signs of the Kingdom.”
The figures are down on last year, when 3,931 adults were received into the Church, in addition to the 795 who joined the then new Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Last week around 250 former Anglicans were accepted into the ordinariate in a “second wave” of growth.
James Bradley, communications officer for the ordinariate, said: “There were about 200 receptions into new ordinariate groups with their pastors, and about 50 into existing groups.”
They bring the total membership of the ordinariate to around 1,200.
In Croydon, 65 former members of St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, including the former vicar, the Rev Donald Minchew, were received into the ordinariate by former Anglican bishop Mgr John Broadhurst.
Over 50 were received into the ordinariate in Darlington by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton; they included the Rev Ian Grieves, who hopes to be ordained in the ordinariate in the coming months.
In his homily Mgr Newton said: “The journey you embarked upon on Ash Wednesday through the days of Lent to your reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church this evening is a model of the whole of your Christian life.
“It has meant for each of you, in a particular way, leaving behind what has been comfortable and familiar and stepping out in faith,
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Priest is ordained in middle of cancer fight Dr Rowan Williams honours martyr
BY ED WEST
A PRIEST has been ordained during Holy Week after being told that his cancer treatment had failed.
Fr Graham Turner was ordained by Cardinal Keith O’Brien at the hospital chapel at Salford Royal Infirmary on Easter Monday. While studying at the University of Nottingham, where he gained a BSc Hons in Chemistry and later a PhD, he felt the call to become a Catholic.
After some years of work as a research chemist he studied at the University of Glasgow and gained an MSc in Information Technology and then worked as a computer programmer, before following a vocation.
He lived in a presbytery in St Andrew’s for five years, helping with the care of retired priests.
Accepted as a student for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh and completing his priestly formation and academic studies while based at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, Fr Turner was ordained to the diaconate while in Rome in June 2010 and was preparing for ordination to the priesthood in June 2011 when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
In Holy Week Fr Turner’s father George contacted Cardinal O’Brien saying that Fr Turner’s treatment had failed and there was nothing more that they could do. The cardinal agreed to ordain him before he underwent further treatment.
BY DAVID V BARRETT
PILGRIMAGES and a commemorative service will celebrate the millennium of the martyrdom of St Alfege, an 11th-century Archbishop of Canterbury.
The celebrations begin on his feast day, Thursday April 19, with a service at Southwark Cathedral followed by a pilgrimage by foot, bicycle, public transport or specially chartered Thames Clipper to St Alfege Church, Greenwich.
In the afternoon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will preach at the Millennium service, which will also include the first performance of a specially commissioned anthem by Roxanna Panufnik.
St Alfege, or Alphege, is remembered as a martyr for justice and a reconciler of divided peoples. Born near Bath around 954 he entered Deerhurst Priory in Gloucestershire as a Benedictine monk but left to live as a hermit. In 976 he was appointed Abbot of Bath, Bishop of Winchester in 984, and in 1006 Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the reign of Ethelred Canterbury was sacked by the Danes and Alfege was taken prisoner. He refused to let his people raise the massive ransom demanded for him, and on April 19 1012, while feasting at Greenwich, the Danes killed him. When Cnut, the King of Denmark, took the English throne, he let Alfege’s remains be taken to Canterbury Cathedral.
certain in the knowledge that we do so in company of Jesus who prayed the night before he died that his disciples might be one. It is a journey that must be total and complete. But like all journeys in the faith, it is one leading to joy and fulfilment.”
Other groups of former Anglicans were received into the ordinariate in Harlow, Essex, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Maidstone, Kent, and Blackpool, Lancashire.
In the United States communities of former Anglicans in Philadelphia and Indianapolis were received into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. In his Holy Week message the American Ordinary, Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, compared the journey to full communion for both individuals and groups of the ordinariate to the journey of Moses and the Chosen People from captivity to the Promised Land.
Nearly 40 former Anglican priests in America are currently studying to be ordained Catholic priests. The first ordinariate candidate was expected to be ordained to the diaconate on Wednesday this week.