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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Catholic schools can survive rising secularism only if they are rooted firmly in the faith, Bishop of Shrewsbury tells teachers

 

Catholic schools must become ever more deeply rooted in the truths of the faith if they are to flourish amid the rising challenges of secularism, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said.

Schools and colleges today found themselves in an “increasingly inhospitable culture where the faith and moral vision of Christianity is barely comprehended”, the Rt Rev. Mark Davies said at the annual Mass for Catholic teachers in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Amid such pressure many “self-identifying Catholics” were tempted to conform to the values of the secular culture even when they ran contrary to the teachings of the Church, the Bishop noted.

But he warned teachers that Catholic schools would flourish only if they held fast to the faith and moral vision of the Church.

“In such an environment Catholic schools cannot survive by living on the surface, by an outward conformity, but only by becoming more and more deeply rooted in the faith, remaining close to the supernatural source of our faith,” Bishop Davies said in a homily preached in Harrytown Catholic High School, near Stockport, on the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul.

“Amid the present disorientation of British society, where the shared Christian understanding of the value of human life or the identity of the human family or even our eternal destiny may languish and fade, we confidently look to Christ and to the Church He founded,” said Bishop Davies.

He told teachers that he was “conscious that our schools and colleges stand at a frontier as places where every field of human learning engages with the faith of the Church and where you meet with every contemporary issue in sharing the same faith with younger generations”.

But he noted that opinion polls were revealing how “self-identifying Catholics increasingly mirror the opinions of wider society rather than sharing the faith of the Church even on such vital questions as the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of married”.

The Bishop said that Catholic schools do not have to “rely on human opinion” but on the faith of the Church expressed by St Peter the Apostle when he said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“It is by this faith we will live and by such faithfulness that we will guarantee that our great educational venture will not merely survive in adverse conditions but will truly flourish,” said Bishop Davies.

“So at the end of every career in Catholic education, whether in the classroom or in the wider leadership of our schools, the measure of all our service must surely be that you and I can hope to repeat these words of the Apostle Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight to the end, I have run the race to the finish, I have kept the faith’. May it be so for each one of us.”

The annual Mass of thanksgiving for Catholic education was arranged by the Department of Education of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

At the end of the Mass, Bishop Davies presented certificates to newly-qualified teachers, to teachers who have completed the Foundation in Faith courses and also to those head teachers who have completed the head teachers’ induction programme.

 

 

(Photos by Simon Caldwell)