Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 65(2) May 2015
LAY CATHOLICS MUST SPEAK UP FOR MARRIAGE
BISHOP MARK DAVIES
On the Feast of St Valentine Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, held a Diocesan Celebration of Marriage at St Columba’s, Chester. The Bishop urged those present to speak out in defence of marriage:
Sadly, we cannot fail to observe an extraordinary phenomenon in our own society by which marriage becomes increasingly “unmentionable”. Politicians speak of “new forms offamily” but often seem afraid to speak of marriage itself. In classrooms teachers, rightly sensitive to the home backgrounds of the children they teach, have often become less ready to propose the model of marriage. We have even heard horror stories of inspectors in schools questioning very young children as to whether they have been taught “narrow” understandings of the family. The Church may well find herself amongst the last voices in society wholeheartedly speaking for the family based on the strong foundation of the lasting, life-giving, faithful union of one man and one woman.
In past decades, Marxists and feminists railed against the institution of marriage as an oppressive structure hindering the march of progress. Today, we know a quieter intimidation urging us to be silent about the immense and necessary good which marriage represents. I want, therefore, to encourage you today to speak up for marriage, to speak uninhibitedly of the good of marriage! In this you speak not simply from your personal experience but from our faith that marriage is God’s plan for the health and happiness of the family and, indeed, for the whole of human society.
His Lordship also spoke about the need to propose the full truth about marriage, including the harm caused by cohabitation and divorce:
Today, marriage is in decline not merely because it has been discriminated against in the tax/benefits system; or mocked by political correctness or denigrated in public entertainment but due to a deeper neglect. We are today facing the challenge of encouraging new generations not to accept cohabitation, easy divorce and family breakdown as a normal part of life, something our society has become resigned to despite its immense human cost, especially for the young. We need to rebuild a culture of the family founded on marriage.
Reminding us of the rich seam of demographic and scientific data upon marriage which, at least to a degree we are bound to represent in our professional lives as well Bishop Davies said:
“Politicians have told me that their electors don’t look to them for sermons. I am sure we don’t expect sermons on morality from our elected representatives but we do expect a moral lead when a great, social good is at stake. We have an obligation to recognise the consequences of the breakdown in stable, two-parent families. The financial cost is staggering: according to one estimate, family disintegration costs an extraordinary £46 billion each year to the public purse (Relationships Foundation). Leaving aside the financial implications it is the immense human cost – especially for the young – which can no longer be ignored. Increasing evidence points to the fact that two-parent families and the children of marriage have better outcomes in almost every area of life. Yet, despite the evidence we have seen, so many of the legal, financial and social supports for marriage and married parents are being removed. Have we become afraid to recognise marriage as a vital and privileged institution serving the good of the whole ofsociety?”
Increasing evidence points to the fact that two-parent
families and children of marriage have better outcomes in almost every
area of life.....
Have we become afraid to recognise marriage as a vital and privileged institution serving the good of the whole of society?
The rest of the homily can be read on this link to the Diocese of Shrewsbury website