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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Bishop Davies: Britain is ‘great’ because of Christmas and Christianity

The people of England must not forget what they owe to Christmas and their Christian heritage, the Bishop of Shrewsbury said in his Christmas homily.

During midnight Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral on Christmas morning, the Rt Rev. Mark Davies likened a loss of the national Christian memory to that of a person with amnesia who has adopted a false identity.

He reminded his congregation that in previous generations the Christian faith has guarded the British people from the seductions of destructive ideologies and from the “messianic claims” of political salvation that, in the 20th century alone, cost the lives of tens of millions of people.

Bishop Davies said the country did not need to search for a new identity because it has a rich Christian identity formed by “grace and history”.

Catholics in particular, the Bishop said, must be “true to the very Christian calling which formed our nation especially when we are faced with difficult choices and reconciling contradictory visions of what our future might be”.

He urged the Catholics of the Diocese of Shrewsbury to strive to live the Christian life fully and never “give way to the shadows of cynicism”.

“May the bright light of this national holiday lead us to pray for our political leaders and all who have responsibility in our public life,” Bishop Davies said.

“May we find our way together by being true to that Light which first shone in Bethlehem and has continued to guide all generations.”

Bishop Davies said: “The Christian faith has guarded us from placing undue confidence in passing leaders or political movements. We have seen how misplaced confidence in secular, messianic claims left a trail of terrible devastation in the past century.

“In the Child born in Bethlehem we have already found the One who alone can save us. And in the long story of our land, every monarch, all earthly power has been called to bend the knee before this Child ‘born for us’ and the love and truth he reveals.”

He said: “In the light of Christmas, may we never lose this perspective on the passing crises of time nor be deceived by false claims of political salvation. Should we ever forget what we owe to Christmas and to our Christian inheritance, then in confused times we might become like someone who loses their memory and are in danger of assuming a false identity.

“We have no need to search for a national identity – grace and history have given us this identity. May we be true to the very Christian calling which formed our nation especially when we are faced with difficult choices and reconciling contradictory visions of what our future might be.”