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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Problems in the Church caused by Catholics failing to be holy, says Bishop Davies in Lenten pastoral letter


Many problems facing the Catholic Church arise from the faithful losing sight of their calling to grow in holiness, the Bishop of Shrewsbury will say in a pastoral letter this weekend.

In a pastoral letter to be read at all Masses in the Diocese of Shrewsbury on the First Sunday of Lent, the Rt Rev. Mark Davies reminded Catholics of the teachings of the popes that every one of them were called “to be saints”.

Both Scripture and Tradition of the Church, including the documents of the Second Vatican Council, taught consistently that “all in the Church … are called to holiness”, said Bishop Davies in his letter, called “On Our Christian Struggle”.

“I fear that so many of the problems the Church faces today arise from losing sight of this goal,” said Bishop Davies, who has dedicated 2019 as a diocesan “Year of Holiness”.

“The Second Vatican Council taught emphatically that the ‘Universal Call to Holiness’ is the Church’s true renewal,” he said.

“This has inspired us in the Year of Holiness in Shrewsbury Diocese,” he said. “However, Pope Francis reminds us that the path to holiness will always be a battle, warning that ‘those who do not realise this will be prey to failure and mediocrity’.

“The Holy Father explains that we face not only a battle against the world and a worldly mentality; nor a struggle ‘that can be reduced to a battle against our own weaknesses and evil tendencies (be they laziness, lust, envy, jealousy or any other)’.

“Pope Francis insists that it will also be a battle against the Devil who is ‘a living, spiritual being, perverted and perverting …’.”

Bishop Davies continued: “Were we not to recognise the gravity of this struggle, we would surely be in the greatest danger of deception.

“The Devil is not an imaginary figure.  The Gospels show us a constant confrontation with this spiritual creature who is powerful and yet limited in seeking to lead us to reject God’s call.”

He added: “It is surely one of the greatest deceptions of the Devil, to present Christ’s Catholic Church as merely a human institution beset with the sins and failures of its members, rather than the Divine institution entrusted with all of the means of human salvation.”

Lent was an opportunity for Catholics to turn to the “abundant means of grace” that can help them to grow in holiness, Bishop Davies said.

Pope Francis, he said, recommended “faith-filled prayer, meditation on the Word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Sacramental Reconciliation, works of charity” as ways to answer the call to holiness.