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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

Press Releases

Progress in the Church requires loyalty to the Pope

Friday 15th March 2013

Embargoed until 00.01 Saturday 16th March 2013

 

The Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, in welcoming the election of Pope Francis and has asked 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 will say 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 will say. “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 will say 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 will say in his letter.

Bishop Davies will also ask 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 will also invite each of the faithful to offer a small act of self-denial for the success of the mission of the Pope.

Bishop Davies will say: “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.”

 

The full text of the pastoral letter of Bishop Davies follows.

 

For further information:

 

Please contact Simon Caldwell, diocesan communications officer at simon.caldwell@dioceseofshrewsbury.org.

Website: www.dioceseofshrewsbury.org

Follow us on Twitter: @ShrewsRCnews

Pictures of Bishop Davies and also of Pope Francis can be downloaded here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicism

 

Text of Bishop Davies’s pastoral letter in full:

Pastoral Letter

To be read at Mass in all the churches and chapels of the Diocese

on the Fifth Sunday of Lent,  16th / 17th March 2013

 

My dear brothers and sisters,

“I announce a great joy to you: we have a Pope!”  This announcement first made from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome has echoed across the world.  I write this Sunday to share with you the joy of welcoming Pope Francis as St Peter’s Successor, as Bishop of Rome and so as our Pope.  During the past two weeks the Chair of St Peter has stood empty and the Pope’s name has poignantly been absent from the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.  We have felt this absence and today share a great joy that in Pope Francis we once more have a Holy Father, a successor in our time of the Apostle Peter. “To this day,” the Youth Catechism explains, “every Bishop of Rome has been, like Peter, the supreme shepherd of the Church, whose real head is Christ” (YouCat 141).

In these past few days you may have heard many commentators telling us what a new Pope should be like and what he should do.  However, no ‘job description’ for a Pope is ever required, as every Pope is called to continue the supreme, pastoral ministry which Christ the Lord entrusted to Peter.  Our Lord called Peter to be the “rock” on which his Church would be built; entrusted him with the keys of His Kingdom; and made him shepherd of the whole flock, calling him to confirm us in the faith (Mt 16:18; Jn 21:15-17; Lk 22:32).  We place our faith in the promises of Christ, not confusing the giftedness of the man with the promises attached to the office of Peter.  We know the Petrine ministry will continue in the Church until the end of time with one Pope following another.  More than once during my own journey around the Diocese I have been introduced as ‘Bishop Brian’, my own predecessor and our Emeritus Bishop.  It serves as a wonderful reminder that it does not matter who the bishop is, so long as he is your bishop!

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.  The Acts of the Apostles tells how the Church at the beginning prayed unceasingly to God for Peter (Acts 12:5).

This Sunday, conscious of the awesome responsibility Pope Francis has accepted, we pray very much for the man called to take the place of Peter in our time.  On Wednesday 20th March I would ask every parish and community in the Diocese to join me in prayer and to offer Mass for the Holy Father.  I also invite you to offer some small sacrifice, some act of self-denial for our Holy Father and for the mission now entrusted to him.

It is significant that the announcement that we have a new Pope should be made from Vatican Hill where St Peter’s mortal remains were buried following his martyrdom.  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.  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.

May God bless our Pope and renew this love and unity in all our hearts,

+  Mark

Bishop of Shrewsbury

Notes to editors:

Pope Francis was elected Supreme Pontiff on 13th March 2013, on the second day of the Conclave to choose the 265th Successor of St Peter the Apostle.

An Argentine and a Jesuit, he is the first pope to hail from the Americas and the first member of the Society of Jesus to serve as Bishop of Rome. He is the first non-European pope since St Gregory III, a Syrian, was elected in 731.

He has taken the name Francis after St Francis of Assisi, the 13th century Italian founder of the Franciscan order and a man who lived a life of radical evangelical poverty and holiness and who received the divine injunction from Our Lord to “rebuild my Church”.

Pope Francis succeeds Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who relinquished his ministry on health grounds on February 28.

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was born on 17 December 1936 in the Argentine capital, though his parents are of Italian extraction.

He studied as and holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Society of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.

Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.

From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at the St Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973, pronounced his perpetual vows.

He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On 31 July 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served as for six years.

From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.

On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nuncio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich. of Mercedes-Lujan on 27 June of that year.

On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.

He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.

He served as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).

He was a member of the Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the Pontifical Council for the Family; and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The Diocese of Shrewsbury covers the parts of Merseyside south of the River Mersey, the southern parts of Greater Manchester, parts of Derbyshire, almost all of the county of Cheshire and all of Shropshire.