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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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‘Bitter and intolerant’ Britain needs the light of Easter, says Bishop

The British national character appears to be changing amid an atmosphere in public debate of “bitterness and intolerance”, the Bishop of Shrewsbury said in his Easter homily.

The Rt Rev. Mark Davies reflected on how legitimate differences of opinion were no longer being treated with tolerance and too often responded to with “anger, enmity, no-platforming, and even threats of violence and death”.

The British people had long been known for their civility and tolerance, he said at Shrewsbury Cathedral on Easter morning, but suggested that recent trends in public debate indicated a change for the worse “in our national character”.

The Bishop said politicians have shown wisdom by pausing from “rancorous debates” during the Easter holiday, and encouraged everyone to regain a sense of perspective from the Easter celebration.

He said that it is in the light of Christ that people see the enduring truth about the human person destined not for death but for eternal life and happiness.

The Bishop appealed for a “return to the foundation that should always underpin our national debates” because the admired “gentle tolerance” of the British character has been largely formed by the truths of the Gospel.

Bishop Davies said its breakdown was a consequence of losing sight “of the greater horizons which Easter celebrates”.

In the truths which made our society and civilization possible people would surely find “the healing of our society and the recovery of our tolerance,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Davies said: “The deepening bitterness and intolerance in British society must surely be of concern to us all. It might even mark a change in our national character as disagreement and difference too often leads to anger, enmity and even threats of violence and death to those in public life.  How did a people once noted for their civility and tolerance, come to such a sorry state of affairs?”

“We might trace this breakdown in our civility and gentle tolerance to losing sight of the greater horizons which Easter itself celebrates. Within many western societies we can see a descent into an irrationalism where there can only be ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’ and no hope of basing our lives and society on what is enduringly and always true.”

The Bishop said: “It is in Christ, the only person who said, ‘I am the truth’ that we find the enduring truth about the human person that has long formed the basis of our civility, human rights and a rule of law worth defending. Our political leaders could not have taken a better time to reflect than at Easter and so return to the foundation that should always underpin our national debates.”