The Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, in welcoming the election of Pope Francis, is asking the Catholics of his diocese to stand united with the new Pope.
The Pope is neither a celebrity nor a politician but a person entrusted with the same office that Our Lord bestowed on St Peter the Apostle, Bishop Davies says in a pastoral letter to be read out in churches throughout the Diocese of Shrewsbury over the weekend of Sunday March 17.
Every Pope is called to be the “rock” upon which the Church is built, and to be the universal pastor of the whole Church, confirming “us in the faith”, he says. “In the Catholic heart there is a not only a recognition of the vital ministry of the Pope, but a love for the Pope.”
Bishop Davies says that fidelity to the teachings of the Successor of St Peter will be fundamental to the renewal of authentic Catholic life in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
“I am certain there can be no progress for the Church in the Shrewsbury Diocese without this living, faithful, loving unity with the See of St. Peter, with our Holy Father, Pope Francis,” the Bishop says in his letter.
Bishop Davies also asks every parish and religious community in the diocese to offer a Mass for Pope Francis on Wednesday March 20 following his installation in Rome on Tuesday March 19.
He also invites each of the faithful to offer a small act of self-denial for the success of the mission of the Pope.
Bishop Davies says: “Our Catholic faith leads us to recognise and promise today, as I promised on the day I became a bishop, to be faithful, obedient and united under the authority of the Successor of the Apostle Peter (Rite for the Ordination of Bishops).
“In the Catholic heart, there is not only a recognition of the vital ministry of the Pope, but a love for the Pope.”
He continues: “Amid testing times, the Pope must always be ready to face a form of martyrdom.
“The Pope is neither a politician nor a celebrity, but always a witness to the Truth, to the One who was crucified, to the Faith handed down by the Apostles.
“The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’ and describes those who suffer and die for Christ. In these hopeful and challenging days, when the Church sees a great expansion of her life on a global scale with more Catholics and more vocations than at any moment in her history, together with the sad phenomenon of the de-Christianisation of societies like our own, much is asked of the Pope.
“This moment surely invites us to renew personally our loyalty to the Pope chosen to guide the Church in these testing times. In the faithful witness Pope Francis will give, often in the face of opposition, may you and I always stand steadfastly and courageously with St. Peter’s Successor. I ask you to renew this promise with me today.”
(source: Shrewsbury diocese website)