THE CATHOLIC HERALD FEBRUARY 17 2012
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Bishop: raise your voices in defence of marriage BY DAVID V BARRETT
GOD, NOT PARLIAMENT, is the author of marriage, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said last weekend in an attack on Government plans to introduce same-sex marriage.
In his homily at the diocesan celebration of marriage at St Wilfred’s church, Northwich, Cheshire, Bishop Davies said that Government proposals to redefine marriage were “a seismic shift in the foundations of our society”.
The very meaning, purpose and identity of marriage is about to be challenged, the bishop said, and he urged Catholics to raise their voices and Christian politicians in the Commons and Lords to rebel against proposed changes to the law which would allow same-sex marriage. “When earth tremors shake the walls of our homes people then give serious thought to the foundations on which their homes rest secure,” he said. “This I believe is such a moment for the British people as for the first time in our history a Government is proposing to change the meaning of marriage and to redefine its identity as the life-long union of one man and one woman. What the Government now proposes to legislate into law constitutes nothing less than a seismic shift in the foundations of our society.
“For politicians of Christian conscience this will be a moment to resist the leadership of their own political parties together with every parliamentarian who recognises the Judeo-Christian foundations on which our society rests.”
The bishop was speaking to couples who were giving thanks for 25, 40, 50. 60 and, in one case, 70 years of married life.
“I am sure each of you today can glimpse how those promises of love and faithfulness, and of openness to the gift of family, made in the morning of your youth, became the foundation for so great a good, not least the upbringing and security of your children and grandchildren,” he said.
“Experience and research speak of how vital this marriage commitment of yours is for the well-being of new generations and for society as a whole.”
It was the very heart of this marriage commitment that was being challenged by the Government’s proposals to allow civil marriage for gay couples, the bishop said.
A formal consultation process will begin in March, according to Coalition Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, which means that the law could be changed, and marriage redefined, before the next general election.
All three main parties support the change to the law, though 100 Conservative MPs are said to be against it. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he is “emphatically in favour” of it. He told the Tory party conference last autumn that he supported gay marriage “because I am a Conservative”.
In the same week that saw a judge ruling against prayers during council meetings Bishop Davies said: “We face a mindset which sees progress only as a continuous shifting of our society further and further from its Christian foundations until we have nothing left for family and society to be founded upon than changing, political fashions of thought.
“It is surely then that we hear the cry of the Psalmist: ‘Foundations once destroyed, what can the just do?’ For the ‘vocation to marriage’ is not the invention of any passing parliament or political or legal system but is, as the Christian faith declares, ‘written into the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator’.
“Marriage is not merely a human institution made or unmade by any generation. God himself is the author of marriage.”
Despite the many variations marriage has undergone throughout history in different cultures and social structures, the bishop said, the stability and the greatness of the marriage union and its identity has always remained.
“Christ our Lord unequivocally taught this original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning and raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.
“The meaning and greatness of marriage can be recognised from the natural law even without the light of faith. Indeed, many who do not share our Christian faith see in this timeless institution of marriage not only the source of the greatest good for the family but one of the key foundations on which the whole of society ultimately depends,” he said.
Bishop Davies urged Catholics to speak out in defence of marriage. “Our voices must now be raised as clearly as they can be, in order to proclaim the Godgiven meaning of marriage not only for the sake of this generation, but for the sake of all generations to come,” he said.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke on his visit to Britain in 2010 of a mentality which today threatens to obscure “the unchanging truth” about our nature, our destiny and our ultimate good, the bishop said.
“The Holy Father urged us at Glasgow: ‘I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom in the public forum.’”
Coalition rules out marriage tax break
Archbishop Nichols builds ties with Armenian Orthodox Church
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE COALITION Government has ruled out plans to introduce a tax break for married couples in next month’s budget.
Chancellor George Osborne angered backbenchers by ruling out keeping the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto promise to introduce a transferable tax allowance worth £150 a year to married couples and those in civil partnerships. It was also among the Coalition’s pledges upon taking power in May 2010.
Catholic MP Edward Leigh sought to introduce tax breaks for married couples by amending the Finance Bill in July last year but was defeated.
Addressing the House of Commons he said that such breaks were “the key policy response to the challenge of social breakdown, the ‘broken Britain’ phenomenon.”
He went on to urge the Government to “fulfil the pledge they made solemnly in the manifesto, that they put in the Coalition agreement and which we are still waiting for”.
Other backbench MPs have expressed their frustration at the Treasury’s decision.
Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, told the Daily Telegraph that delaying the introduction of marriage tax breaks represented a “failure of leadership” by Mr Cameron. “I urge George Osborne to reconsider this decision,” he said. “There is a great deal of evidence that shows marriage has many economic and other benefits to society.
“Not to introduce this feels like kowtowing to the Liberal Democrats. Our supporters say they want this and they put us where we are. We need to deliver what they want.”
The tax breaks agreed by the Coalition have proved controversial with Liberal Democrats and the libertarian section of the Conservative Party, which the Chancellor is thought to naturally sympathise with.
During last October’s Conservative Party conference David Cameron reiterated the Coalition Government’s commitment to introducing tax breaks for married couples.
ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster met Bishop Vahan Hovhannesian, the Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the UK and Ireland, last week.
Bishop Hovhannesian, who was ordained bishop last November, has a PhD in Biblical Studies from
Fordham University, New York, and is the author of several books on the Bible. He became Primate of the Armenian Church in Britain in 2009.
Dr Harry Hagopian, the bishops’ conference’s consultant on Middle Eastern and North African affairs, said: “This meeting was a way of further extending our relations and seeing if we could work more closely together in the future on the ministries of the Church, to collaborate together.
“The Armenian Orthodox Church has a very rich ecumenical outreach. Pope John Paul II had good relations with [the church], and so has Pope Benedict XVI. We are enhancing these relationships.”
Dr Hagopian and Fr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, were also at the meeting.
Wembley Arena to host young Catholics
BY ED WEST
THE CATHOLIC Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) is hoping to fill the 11,000 capacity Wembley Arena for the Flame Congress next month.
The organisers have already sold 7,000 tickets for the event, which will be hosted on March 24 and will link sport and faith before the Olympic Games this summer.
The event was inspired by the success of the papal visit of September 2010, in which large numbers of young people were present at Westminster Cathedral, Hyde Park and at “the Big Assembly” at Twickenham.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and 10 other bishops will be among the speakers, alongside Sister Catherine Holum, a former Olympic speedskater, Barry and Margaret Mizen and Paschal Uche, who spoke during the papal visit. There will be talks on the themes of “friendship, excellence and respect”, while the music will be composed by Edwin Fawcett, who was heavily involved in the music for the 2010 papal vigil in Hyde Park.
Such is the demand for the Flame Congress, which takes its name from St Paul’s Letter to Timothy – “Fan into a Flame the gifts that God gave you” – that Hexham and Newcastle Diocese has hired a train to Wembley, and filled it already.
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Faithful donate £100,000 to fund the ordinariate BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE PERSONAL Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has received approximately £100,000 in charitable donations in the space of seven months.
Since the establishment of its charitable arm, called the Friends of the Ordinariate, the group has received generous donations from supporters and friends.
The majority of recent donations have been in the form of one-off gifts, although annual standing orders have accounted for £24,000 of the total recorded sum.
Two charitable trusts have also made significant donations, one of £3,000 and one of £5,000.
Mgr Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, said: “I cannot thank everyone enough who has supported the Friends of the Ordinariate. The needs of the ordinariate are great and growing rapidly as the number of priests joining us increases. We are urgently in need of additional funds not least for the formations of seminarians and the development of the ordinariate.”
He added: “In particular I would like to thank the publishers and staff of The Catholic Herald for the free advertising space in the paper.”
Last September the Friends of the Ordinariate organised a reception attended by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.
Last month the ordinariate celebrated Evensong at St James, Spanish Place, London, to mark its one-year anniversary. It was created following Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, which invited groups of Anglicans to enter into full communion with Rome while retaining their own Anglican traditions and liturgy.
The nature of the ordinariate has made funding the project exceptionally challenging given that many of its clergy are married with children. Furthermore, through joining the Catholic Church the newly ordained have sacrificed pensions, salaries and homes which the Anglican Church formerly provided.
The annual costs of running the ordinariate have been estimated at £1 million with the number of members expected to increase.
The ordinariate received a £1 million donation from the Anglo-Catholic group the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament last year, but the donation is now being investigated by the Charity Commission after it attracted criticism from Anglicans. Editorial Comment: Page 13
WILL YOU HELP A PRIEST
TO ROOF HIS CHAPEL
IN THE MISSIONS
THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION receives many requests from missionary priests for help to roof or repair their chapels. In mission villages there are thousands of chapels waiting to be roofed. The grass roofing, which in many cases is the only overing for the chapel which the local people can afford, is easily destroyed by severe storms, or is eaten by termites.
£900 will provide a permanent roof for a chapel
The sum of £900 will enable a missionary priest to buy sufficient corrugated iron sheets to provide a decent and permanent roof for his chapel. In mission lands it is often extremely difficult to build up a Christian community without a chapel. A chapel gives a status to a missionary and his community, acting as a parish or village centre during the week, and constantly in use for catechism and prayer. Often it is the only solid building in the area so villagers can find protection within its walls from typhoons, cyclones, floods, etc. Please will you help a missionary to provide a worthy setting for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Your gift, however small, will be gratefully received and sent WITHOUT DEDUCTION to a priest in the Missions to enable him to roof or repair his chapel.
Crossed POs and cheques should be sent and made payable to: THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION, CH/02/17 119 Cedars Rd, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR (Registered Charity No. 235703) Tel. 020-7622 0466 I enclose £ ...............to be allocated for: £........ CHAPELS IN THE MISSIONS £........ FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY £........ MASS STIPENDS (please state no. ) £........ LITTLE WAY ADMIN. EXPENSES
DONATIONS FOR THE MISSIONS ARE SENT WITHOUT
DEDUCTION FOR ANY EXPENSES.
“Our Divine Lord asks no sacrifice beyond our strength.” St Therese
PLEASE HELP FEED
THE HUNGRY Missionaries worldwide plead with us for help to relieve the pangs of starvation of countless children and adults. Your donation will be forwarded intact to a missionary who will be happy to put it speedily to use to save lives and alleviate the misery of hunger. £25 would keep a person alive for one month; £300 for a whole year
Name (Rev. Mr. Mrs. Miss) (Block letters please) Address
HOLY MASS is offered each day in the Missions for the intentions of all Little Way benefactors and friends.