Bishop Mark Davies: ‘The Future of Humanity Passes by Way of the Family’

Homily for the National Association of Catholic Families

National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

We gather during this celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. We rejoice with many today not only in the Queen’s constitutional role carried out with unfailing dedication but also in her Christian witness of faith and prayer. However, it is significant that a family stands always at the centre of our constitution, at the heart of our national life. The Crown passes by way of a family! It was, of course, in this Norfolk countryside almost a millennium ago that a simple house was built to remind all generations of the centrality and holiness of the family revealed by God’s plan in the Holy Family of Nazareth. True, it was a monarch, King Henry VIII, not noted for his reverence for marriage, who saw both house and shrine destroyed four centuries ago. Yet Walsingham has now visibly returned in its Catholic and Anglican witness. Here we will always be reminded in Blessed John Paul II’s unforgettable words that, “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Familaris Consortio n. 86). It is a self-evident truth which too often is obscured in our consciousness today that the future of humanity, the future of society, depends on the family.

The Deputy Prime Minister was recently reported as saying he could not understand why Christians and other people of faith saw a legal redefinition of marriage as a matter of conscience: it would not he claimed impinge on religious freedoms. Experience, of course, might make us cautious of such assurances, even those given by a Deputy Prime Minister, that this agenda will not threaten religious freedom. However, our concern is not only with religious freedom but also with the enormous good which marriage represents as foundational to family-life. Today we see a government, without mandate, disposing of any credible consultation, seeking to impose one of the greatest acts of “social engineering” in our history by uprooting the legal definition of marriage. Marriage lies at the very foundation of the family. For all generations to follow one generation of politicians is setting out to demolish in the name of an “equality agenda” the understanding of marriage that has served as the timeless foundation for the family. The government is seeking to do this at the very moment when marriage as an institution has been more weakened than ever before. Yet it asks: why are people of faith concerned?

One of England’s greatest and clearest thinkers the now Blessed John Henry Newman famously distinguished what he called “notional assent” from “real assent.” It seems that most people in public life give a notional assent to the value of the family as that first and vital cell of society – and never more so than in those moments of social disturbance such as the riots of last summer. However, what is needed is not just a notional agreement to the importance of family but a real assent to the place of the family in our society as securing the well-being of generations to come. This involves the recognition of what marriage uniquely is. A recognition comes not only from faith but from reason which clearly sees that it is from the family that “citizens come to birth and it is with within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues which are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself” (Familaris Consortio n 42). In this way it is in the family that the future of society will be decided. So far from weakening and confusing the foundation of the family we invite our political leaders to give back to the institution of marriage and the family the recognition and confidence it deserves.

Here in Walsingham where across so many centuries of our history the sacredness of marriage and family were recognised in the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we wish to affirm in the words of Blessed John Paul II that “the Creator of all things has established marriage as the beginning and basis of human society” (Familaris Consortio 42)). May the gift of marriage and the family be held sacred by us all for the sake of every generation to come.

Amen.

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26 Responses to Bishop Mark Davies: ‘The Future of Humanity Passes by Way of the Family’

  1. planechant2 says:

    Well said Bishop Davies. I’m sure that other Bishops must have spoken in similar vein, but I’m not sure who. The words of Bishop Davies need to reverberate throughout the nation.

  2. The metaphysics underlying natural law theory that marriage is, not by human definition, but as an objective metaphysical fact determined by its final cause, inherently procreative, and thus inherently heterosexual.

    Socrates: “And when the orator instead of putting an ass in the place of a horse puts good for evil being himself as ignorant of their true nature as the city on which he imposes is ignorant; and having studied the notions of the multitude, falsely persuades them not about “the shadow of an ass,” which he confounds with a horse, but about good which he confounds with evil – What will be the harvest which rhetoric will be likely to gather after the sowing of that seed?”

    Phaedrus: “The reverse of good.”

  3. toadspittle says:

    .
    “The government is seeking to do this at the very moment when marriage as an institution has been more weakened than ever before.” says the BIsh.

    That marriage is currently under fire is is indisputable. But it’s nothing to do with “gays” I think. In fact the idea of “gays” forming stable legal relationships would seem to be more of a benefit to the institution than otherwise.
    While society in general seems to be dismissing marriage, “gays” seem to be embracing it.
    To spell it out, it seems that many “gays” want to be more than “a couple,” they want to be a family. How bad is that?

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    How on Earth can gays be a “family” ?

    Put two men on a desert island with all supplies they need to live their lives in mutual happiness, come back 30 years later, and you’ll find no family there…

    Put a married couple there, and the likelihood is that you will.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    Family means children, not who happens to be shagging whom.

  6. The Raven says:

    Toad

    If a couple of chaps wish to set up home together and live out lives faithful to one another, all I can say is good luck to them (if they choose to express their relationship sexually then that, other than my concern for their salvation, is really not my business).

    If they want the state to recognise their relationship, then, other than a concern that the state really shouldn’t be involved in regulating our lives, that seems incontroversial to me (civil partnership, like civil marriage is a way for the state to solve some of the problems that it creates through taxation and regulation).

    But marriage? Don’t be daft: it’s akin to a man asking to be a mother.

  7. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Family means children, “

    So, Jabba, no children, (for whatever reason – sterility, disability, sheer mutual sexual uninterest, any number of reasons,) – no family?
    Don’t be silly.
    I personally know of a couple of “gay” men who have brought up a family of four kids, from their past relationships with women.

    It’s a family. What else is it?

  8. toadspittle says:

    .
    “But marriage? Don’t be daft: it’s akin to a man asking to be a mother. “

    Can’t a man be maternal? Probably not. Certainly not Toad.

    A man’s proper role is marching in step, while waving a flag, shouting, “Hurrah!” and shooting people, isn’t that so, Raven?.

    Yea, right.

  9. toadspittle says:

    .
    “..than a concern that the state really shouldn’t be involved in regulating our lives,”
    Says Raven. So, we can look forward to you indignantly refusing to accept your govennment pension on retirement, can we not?

    (Tell them to send it to Toad. He has no pride.)

  10. The Raven says:

    Toad

    A man’s proper role is doing whatever he needs to in order to support himself, those he loves and the poor: marching in step and waiving flags are things best left to consenting adults in private.

  11. The Raven says:

    Toad

    As my government pension will probably amount to £1.52 per annum, payable in Greek government bonds, I’m not putting a lot of faith in receiving it.

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    I personally know of a couple of “gay” men who have brought up a family of four kids, from their past relationships with women.

    Nuff, as Stan would say, said.

  13. toadspittle says:

    .

    …marching in step and waving flags are things best left to consenting adults in private.
    Hurrah, Raven!
    We agree!
    And there are plenty of other things that ought to be done in the privacy of one’s palace. Possibly opposing “gay” marriage, for a start. Got that, Bishop Mark?
    I would add Morris Dancing, listening to Ethel Merman discs, and and playing the accordean to the list.
    “A man’s proper role is doing whatever he needs to in order to support himself, those he loves and the poor:”
    Very well – what is the proper role of the poor, in your estimation?
    As to your pension Raven, not putting faith in receiving it, is not the same as rejecting it. Will you be doing that?

    Jabba, further to your comment above, I was thinking aout a neighbour friend – unmarried, in his 50’s (not “gay” as far as I can tell) who is very much part of a very big family here.
    How can that be, if “family means children”? Although I suppose he was a child once, unlike “gays,” It would seem..
    “Gay” women quite often have children of their own, it seems. Are their menages not families?

  14. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    Bishop Mark Davies is doing what is expected of him as a faithful bishop of the Catholic Church; he is giving out the proper teaching of what marriage and family is all about. He is not one of the weak ones afraid of losing popularity by not rallying to the modernist mindset of our times where anything goes. Bishop Davies cares about what might happen to the eternal souls of his flock if he does not instruct them with the Truth. (One could actually ponder whether others in such positions of authority care as much as he does by their complaisance!)

    Yup, it’s not easy to stand out on some issues like a true disciple of Christ. You let yourself in for a whole lot of criticism, hate publicity and threats. Only truly free men who can think for themselves and not be hoodwinked by our modernist programme for self destruction (known as progress!!) can stand out valiantly and ‘swim against the tide’. All those who have been brainwashed by the reigning propaganda of our times to be what is falsely described as ‘tolerant’, ‘kind’, ‘liberal’ etc., to make all sorts of horrors now become ‘lawful’, don’t seem to realise that we are going the ways of ancient Rome……. and its downfall.

    This is what is happening to so many good people, swept along by what they hear and see, and unable to discern the lies behind the false hype…… but I would have expected more of Toad ;-).

  15. JabbaPapa says:

    Families, dear toad, are produced by heterosexuality, in whichever form.

    Artificial insemination is just a desensitized, depersonalised, and grossly abstracted form of sexual intercourse between male and female.

    The ability of lesbian women to be impregnated by non-lesbian men (whether directly or by proxy) is a non-problem. It is condemned nowhere in scripture, nor is it specifically condemned by Catholic doctrine as far as I know.

    This is likely to be because it is an undeniable material reality ; in the same way that two men, just as undeniably, can produce zero babies.

  16. toadspittle says:

    .
    Jabba, you haven’t answered my question, which I will put once more, even more simply.
    Do two “gay” women (or men, in fact) living together with their child, or children – constitute a family, or not?

  17. toadspittle says:

    .

    “Only truly free men who can think for themselves and not be hoodwinked by our modernist programme for self destruction (known as progress!!)….”

    Kathleen, as we both – we all – know, Bishop Davis is free to think absolutely anything that pops into his head.
    Just as long as it is Offical Catholic Dogma. Otherwise, he’d better keep his thoughts tucked safely under his mitre, had he not?
    Toad, on the other hand, is free to consider – then accept or discard – any idea he trips over.

    There is no “modernist programme for self-destruction”. If it happens, it will be by a series of uncordinated, though possibly inter-related, events.
    Probably as a result of clashing religions. Fanatical Muslims are, Toad suspects, a far greater threat to civilisation than a couple of “gays” and their baby.
    Teeny, almost undetectable, bit of hysterical paranoia here, I seem to sniff. You sound a bit like one of those men in Oxford Street with sandwich boards, “Woe! Flee From The Wrath To Come!”
    Though why you should deplore this, assuming you do – escapes me.
    Surely, that this godless society threatens to implode like Ancient Rome is to be devoutly desired?

    “Progress” though, is a curate’s egg – good in parts, rotten in others. Always has been.

    Matter of indifference to Toad.

  18. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    Yes there is not of course a planned “programme of self-destruction”….. I was being ironic. This pagan type of mindset comes about when people turn away from God and His Divine Law, and make their own straw ‘gods’, (usually in their own image and likeness). They think they are free, but they become little more than slaves to their whims and passions.
    This whole fiasco about “redefining marriage” is just one of the many outcomes from this “I will not serve“, i.e. “I know best“.

    Toad, on the other hand, is free to consider – then accept or discard – any idea he trips over.”

    Relying solely on your own judgement is not a good idea!

    Putting one’s trust in what you call with sarcasm “Offical Catholic Dogma“, is simply trusting in that age-old wisdom of the Catholic Church’s teaching. Surely that is a wiser thing to do? It is that same teaching that Our Lord Jesus Christ assured us that “the gates of Hell would not prevail against“.

    It isn’t always easy, and it can often be a struggle to remain faithful; we all know that. Not only do we have to fight our own sinful tendencies, temptations, weaknesses and very human limitations, but we also sometimes may battle doubts and scruples, and even perhaps “dark nights of the soul”. However, in the words of the great St. Peter: “Where else would we go Lord; only You have words of Eternal Life“.

  19. toadspittle says:

    .
    Kathleen, True, I didn’t realise you were being ironic.
    Irony is not generally one of your hallmarks, I would suggest.
    And when I spoke of Official Catholic Dogma I was not being in the least <zsarcastic. What else should I haver called it?
    Nor do I rely solely on my own judgement. I have been impressed and have benefitted from the judgement and opinions of many others, too numerous to mention, but Anthony Kenny is one of the more recent.
    However, ultimately, we must decide for ourselves. Even if we simply decide to trust someone else's judgement on everything.

    Mind you, the age-old wisdom of the Church taught me all about Limbo, which was jam-packed with unbaptised babies, when I was a toadpole.

    Go figure, as they say in Pirttsburgh.

  20. toadspittle says:

    .
    And referring to “the age-old wisdom of the Church” like that, was a bit sarcastic. As you can see. Ironic, even.

  21. toadspittle says:

    .
    By all means swallow Catholicism whole. But make sure you are holding you nose, and helping it down with a stiff gin and tonic, while doing so, suggests Toad.

    …Who currently has a house crammed full of South Koreans. Apparently, someone over there has posted that we are the best place on the entire Camino Frances.
    We are going to regret this.
    Horribly.

  22. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba, you haven’t answered my question, which I will put once more, even more simply.

    That is because it is irrelevant to my earlier statement, not because I failed to understand it.

    I spoke of one situation, you responded by asking a question about a different one.

    Obviously, homosexuals not only belong to the families of their parents, but they can be involved in families of their own.

    Two men, or any other sort of exclusive non-heterosexuality, continue however not to constitute “families”, because children are produced by heterosexuality, directly or indirectly, and children are the very essence of what constitutes family.

    I am aware of attempts to redefine all of these concepts by modernist reformers. I do not agree with such ideas.

  23. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Two men, or any other sort of exclusive non-heterosexuality, continue however not to constitute “families”,”
    Then two men, living together under the same roof, with children whom they have fathered, and who bear their names, do not constitute a family, according to Jabba.
    Then what do they constitute?
    On second thoughts, don’t bother answering that because I suddenly realise I really don’t care what anyone calls it, and neither should the people involved, if they’ve got any sense.

    And I’m well aware of how children are produced. Having produced three in the conventional fashion..

    But we – or at least Toad – ought to move on regarding “Gay Marriage.” We’re getting nowhere.
    What will happen, whatever is said on CP&S, is that gays will go on getting married, as they see it, and Catholics wil go on saying; “You’re not really married,” and the gays will go on saying, “Oh yes we are.”

    And so on, ad infinitum.

  24. JabbaPapa says:

    Then what do they constitute?
    On second thoughts, don’t bother answering that because I suddenly realise I really don’t care what anyone calls it

    Well, that’s the end result of trying to sneak an implicit agreement with something I don’t believe into a conversation with me…

  25. The Raven says:

    “Very well – what is the proper role of the poor, in your estimation?”

    The answer to that should be obvious, Toad: to love and nurture their families and friends and to support those even poorer than themselves.

    “As to your pension Raven, not putting faith in receiving it, is not the same as rejecting it. Will you be doing that?”

    As I’ll have paid for the b****y thing several times over by the time that I’ve retired (as well as paying the pensions of several expat retiree journalists, into the bargain), I do feel entitled to take back some of that which was taken from me (the fact that I don’t expect to make it to retirement age is immaterial!).

  26. toadspittle says:

    .
    Very nicely put.

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