Practising faith as difficult for today’s young Catholics as during protestant persecution – Bishop Davies

Bishop Mark Davies, in his address to Youth 2000 at Middlewich, has stated that practicing the Faith is becoming as difficult for young Catholics since the days of the protestant persecution in this country:

‘For never since the days of persecution have so many obstacles been put in front of a generation to prevent you finding your way to Him. And it isn’t so much Sunday working, Sunday shopping, social lives which block out Saturday nights and Sunday mornings but losing sight of Jesus Himself which eclipses Sunday, not knowing where He is found which leaves it empty.’

Bishop Mark Davies admits that one of the reasons why it has become so difficult for young people to fulfill their Sunday obligation is because the older generation has failed to pass on the faith in its fullness:

‘For a generation before you so often failed to pass on those directions, the fullness of our Catholic faith which in Isaiah’s words at every crucial turn of our lives tells us, “this is the way, follow it!” And Sunday has often become the end of a “weekend” rather than the beginning which the Lord’s Day becomes for everyone who finds their way to Him.’

Predictably guardians of the failed liberal experiment have criticized Bishop Davies for  speaking out against the secularization of the Church they have promoted, and their rejection of the fullness of the Faith, which they long ago abandoned.

Bishop Conry, Head of the Bishops Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, criticized Bishop Mark Davies on both counts in The Tablet:

‘Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton disagreed that society was hostile to people practising their faith. “It’s easy tothink that we are privileged to have the biggest challenge ever,” he explained. “A Catholic historian editing Jesuit correspondence fromthe eighteenth century said that a recurring theme was that this was the most difficult period the Church has had to live through,”he said. “I think that our society is in different and uninformed, rather than hostile.”

The bishop also questioned whether older Catholics could be blamed for failing to passon the faith. “We have had many generations that learned their  ‘faith’ in terms of catechism content, but can we say that they ever really understood and therefore were in a position to pass on their ‘faith’?” he said. “Moreover, the present generation is more critical and independent, more confident in many ways than we were at that age, and less socially conditioned – obedience is not a word you hear used a lot. It was when I was young.”

Sr Gemma  Simmonds, a Heythrop College lecturer wrote on The Tablet blog:

‘No generation ever alive has passed on the fullness of faith to the next. The fullness of faith is beyond us all. This is why Jesus came on earth, to be “our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Each generation brings something to the search for faith and loses something…’Going to Mass on Sunday is certainly a way to express and nourish faith, but it is not the fullness of faith, which is something that has to be lived in the context of the ordinary in solidarity with all that is good and true and beautiful in our world. I’m not sure that putting the generations even more at odds with one another than they already are is going to help this.’

Protect the Pope comment: The moment a bishop in this country puts his head above the parapet to point out the blindingly obvious – that we’re living in a very hostile environment to living the fullness of the Catholic faith – liberal Catholics mock and jeer accusing him of being a prophet of doom, or just wrong.

The same thing happened to Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, who got mauled by Bishop Kieran Conry and Prof. Nicholas Lash. This time its Bishop Kieran Conry and Sr Gemma  Simmonds patronizing Bishop Mark Davies  (Notice the common denominator?).

You keep telling us how it really is Bishop Mark, because you’re one of the few bishops with the courage to speak out.

34 comments to Practising faith as difficult for today’s young Catholics as during protestant persecution – Bishop Davies

  • Adam

    Bishop Mark is such a sound guy with a deep love for youth. HE should be in charge of Catechises and Evangelisation and not the dangerous Conry. I do hope he ends up as Archbishop of Westminster one day.

  • Mike2

    Deacon Nick,

    Any chance you could change that ‘practicing’ into ‘practising’? Let the Americans speak their weird version of our wonderful language but let’s keep to the way we speak and write it. Please.

  • Karla

    Its to be expected when the faith is the opposite of so much in the culture.

  • Nix

    Having ‘patchworked’ my four childrens’ education between Catholic and secular schools, I can tell you that there is open and normalised hostility from other children: atheists, agnostics and those holding other beliefs, towards Catholic children.

  • CathChap

    This headline is insulting to these who suffered and died during the Protestant Persecution. Living in a society that provides you with distractions on a Sunday and which sometimes mocks and sneers is NOT the same as being tortured, killed and persecuted.

    I’d much rather be a Catholic in the UK today than one alive in former centuries. If the price for being able to live peacefully, openly and freely is that we grant the same rights to other religions and to non-believers than that is a price worth paying.

    It is a pretty weak kind of Catholic who uses the fact that the shops are open 7 days a weak as an excuse for not practicing their faith.

    Sorry to shatter the presecution complex of most folk here, but I feel quite able to practice my religion in the UK. yes there are minor anoyances and inconveniences every so often but that really is just part of life.

    • Pedro

      CathChap, you are the second sensible Catholic to appear here in as many days. It’s very refreshing to hear some moderate voices for once.

      Watch out Deacon Nick! Moderate Catholics might soon outnumber the paranoid fantasists around here. You might even attract people who have nice things to say about Catholic bishops.

      • CathChap

        Thanks Pedro,

        I am not sure I like to be called a moderate. I am pretty much a straight down the line mainstream Catholic in terms of what I believe and how I try to live my life, sinner though I am.

        To be honest I just find it rather pathetic (perhaps tragic is a better word) that we have reduced ourselves to moaners. It makes us look like wingnuts. And for a religion that is supposed to be timeless, it is embarassing to see how quickly we have jumped on the victimhood bandwaggon which is part of our current secular fashion.

        The UK is a great place to be a Catholic (or a muslim or a Jew or an athiest). Am I discriminated against? Not really. There are ignorant people out there and I have occasionally been insulted for having “too many” children or supporting a “pedophile Pope”, but I am an adult, I can handle it and on the whole the vast vast majority of people are polite and respectful and I try and be the same in return.

        I am a relatively privileged middle-class professional and things may be worse for those not as lucky as I am. But when I look arround the UK at people who are victimised and discriminated against, it isn’t Catholics who leap out at me. It is the unemployed, the poor, the lonely, ex-prisoners, drug addicts, alcoholics, people who the school system has failed and people with the “wrong” skin colour or accent or people who are struggling with their sexuality. Anyone who is really concerned about discrimination as opposed to gaining political advantage, needs to look at those people and get angry about those things, and the discrimination that Christians experience in insufficiently secularised muslim countries, rather than winge about the display of a palm cross in a council van as if that is the most important thing in the world.

        I don’t see non-believers as a threat. Their conclusions about the world are perfectly rational and logical (and therefore worthy of respect) if you start from a position of non-faith and I am not sure you can blame someone for lacking faith (which is a gift from God) anymore than you can argue, insult, bully or torture (as has unfortunately been tried all too often) them into getting faith (you can torture someone into pretending to have faith, but that is a horrible perversion of Christianity). All we can do is try and construct the best possible world for us to live together in.

      • spesalvi23

        If you could enlighten me here… what’s moderate about accepting the fact that one has to face reality as a Catholic without fear and excuses?
        In terms of paranoia – trust me it’s a LOT easier running around as a society conform, current ideology following, Teflon-coated person than having to face ridicule about Dogma and ‘superstition’.

        In my case: Martin Luther is a local hero – I’ve lost loads of friends (all Lutherans) when I converted to Catholicism and have been regarded as a mental case by some of them – strangely, mostly by the so called intellectuals whose Dogma is tolerance of everything and everybody.
        So much for that, eh?!

    • Karla

      I disagree, I think there are many elements of persecution or at least severe discrimination in the UK towards Christians. And just because it has not happened to you personally does not mean it is not going on.

      When you look at the definition of persecution it coincides with what is going on in the UK:

      ‘To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.’

      I don’t think persecution depends on violence.

      So even though there is much worse persecution in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, that does not mean what goes in the UK towards Christian is not relevant or actual persecution.

      Recently reported, the police who banned the Bible from a Lancashire cafe, if I didn’t know that had happened that had happened in Lancashire I would of guessed it would of happened in China. Jennie Cain who was suspened from a job as a receptionist at a primary school because she asked her friends to pray for her after her daughter was upbraided for talking about Jesus in school. Or what of nurse Caroline Petrie who was suspended because she offered to pray for a patient patient. The Bible being relegated to the top shelves in Leicester libraries. Local authorities trying to rename Christmas as Winterval. Colin Atkinson who had to remove a cross from his car windshield. Catholic adoption agencies not having the freedom of religious conscience and having to shut down because of Labour’s equality laws. Calls for various people for Churches to be forced to allow civil unions and/or gay ‘marriages.’

      This is not isolated, it is case after case after case after case.

      • Gerry

        ‘Recently reported,the police who banned the Bible from a Lancashire cafe,if I didn’t know that had happened that had happened in Lancashire I would of guessed it would of happened in China. ‘

        Thats been discussed on here karla, and I recall that it wasn’t quite as cut and dried as ‘the man’ coming round in a totalitarian way.

      • CathChap


        You have illustrated my point brilliantly. The police didn’t ban the Bible in Lancashire. The police don’t have the power to ban things and if I recall the facts of the case, noone was arrested or charged or anything.

        It was a case of a silly Policeman making a silly mistake and you exagerate the facts to “Police ban Bible” because you just love to feel persecuted.

        As for Winterval that was a completely made up story by the Daily Mail as even they have now admitted.

        You know the story about the boy who cried wolf?

        Please stop making Christians look like unhinged loonies

        • Deacon Nick

          Cathchap, you’re new to the site so I’ll let you off this once – no personal insults against others on this site. In this case your use of the phrase ‘unhinged loonies’. No discussion, no excuses. Don’t insult others. Deacon Nick

          • gerry

            I’d say that ‘makes us look like’ isn’t an insult or even hinting that RC’s are [forbidden words].

            I read it as ‘makes us look very bad’. You may disagree as to whether looking ‘bad’ matters – but…..well, lets just say that we’ve discussed that before.

          • John Ansley

            Only attacks perpetrated by “Gerry” are permitted….for some strange reason.

          • Deacon Nick

            Gerry’s comments are not gratuitous insults, but part of the friction that comes from debate. Attacks are permitted if by that you mean criticisms. But not gratuitous personal insults or grossly offensive attacks. Deacon Nick.

          • CathChap

            Sorry Karla. NO insult intended. I don;t think you are unhinged. But I do think we need to be aware that their are anti-catholics who will jump on any opportunity to view us as such.

          • John Ansley

            Isn’t the word “pompous, used to describe Paul Melanson, a personal insult?

        • Karla

          Okay on those two you pointed out, but what about all the others? There are so many cases, they are not isolated, its always targeted Christians, never to anybody else. It is persecution, what happens in the UK towards Christians fits the definition.

          • CathChap

            I’m not going to go through each case one by one, some will be genuine discrimination some not. i don’t deny that sometimes we are treated unfairly, but it is rare and the idea that it is always Christians who are targetted is false. There are plenty of times that muslims, hindus, athiests are unfairly treated to (and plenty of times when they complain that they are unfairly treated and go on to loose a legal claim).

            We shouldn’t ignore any of this but it seems to me like you are desperate to see an evil campaign of anti-christian discrimination sweeping across the country as some kind of validation that you must have the Truth (else why they attack us). I just don’t buy it, the UK is a remarkably tolerant place.

  • Veritas

    Instead of judging a talk or a sermon by an isolated phrase we should read the phrase in context.

    “Never since the days of persecution have so many obstacles been put in front of a generation to prevent you finding your way to Him. And it isn’t so much Sunday working, Sunday shopping, social lives which block out Saturday nights and Sunday mornings but losing sight of Jesus Himself which eclipses Sunday, not knowing where He is found which leaves it empty. It isn’t the incidentals of music or style which draws or deters you from finding your way to Him. Those things may help or hinder us but they’re not why we’re ever here. We are here because we know in the words of St. John Vianney that “He is here, the One who loves us so much He is here.” May we find our way to Him where we know He will always be found.”

    The Bishop is saying is that it is “losing sight of Jesus Himself which eclipses Sunday, not knowing where He is found which leaves it (ie Sunday) empty”.

    In other words: a loss of faith is eclipsing Sunday; that is the real obstacle that is preventing so many from coming to Him.

    If a priest gave £1,000 to everyone who came to Mass, our churches would have standing room only. But we are all of course being offered something far more valuable – far more precious than all the money in the world.

    As Alec Guiness wrote in “A Commonplace Book”:

    On our return from church:
    Lapsed Catholic: ‘Had a nice Mass?’
    Self wanted to answer: ‘Oh, you know; the same old thing. The Real Presence at the altar, body, blood, soul, divinity of Christ, as usual.’

    He is here, the One who loves us so much He is here.

    • CathChap


      It is a loss of faith that is the problem.

      Faith is a gift from God. Some have it and some do not.

      If you have received the gift, then the fact that Tesco’s is open and the lawn needs cutting and Dawkins thinks we are foolish and says mean things about us isn’t going to stop you from striving to live a full life as a Christian and as a Catholic.

      A faith that can’t handle a bit of criticism doesn’t strike me as an especially strong faith.

      • spesalvi23

        I’m sorry; I have a slightly different opinion about where faith comes from.
        Certainly, one should feel privileged to ‘have’ faith and to be able to feel the presence of Christ which is the greatest gift on this planet.
        But, regarding faith purely as a gift from God, which some have and others don’t, is a bit too simplistic for me.

        The Vatican has created a new dicastery dedicated to re-evangelization. Faith is always connected to and obtained by mission. Christ himself gave the order to His disciples to spread His message. Mission is a vital part of Christianity.
        As Pope Benedict has said many times: as Catholics, we have the privilege of experiencing a close, deep love of and friendship with Christ – including the hope, love, serenity and joy it gives us. It’s not possible to keep this beauty to ourselves – it HAS to be passed one, because it’s so wonderful!

        Faith has a spiritual dimension, but also an intellectual one. God can do His part, we have to do ours.

        • CathChap

          I don’t disagre with any of that. Faith is a gift from God but not just that.

          We have to pass it on but we need to be very careful in doing this. All to often in history we have managed to instill a fake faith into people out of fear or self interest. That is not what mission ought to be about. It is a gift from God but it has to be genuinely accepted by a person exercising their free will. Bullying, bribing people into a fake faith is tempting but ought to be resisted.

          • spesalvi23

            For sure – but not a very easy task. Even though, during times of turmoil and uncertainty, people have an instinctive need for God.
            It will be up the new Missionaries to guide people into the right direction, instead of leaving them stuck in that ever-so popular but shallow esoteric hybrid.

  • Veritas


    “The Bishop is saying is that it is” should read “The Bishop is saying that it is”

  • Bishop Davies should be hung, drawn and quartered for talking such nonsense which is pure bigotry and an insult to all my ancesters who actually were persecuted for “the faith” – sometimes fatally.

    The Bishop confuses difficult with impossible.
    During the Reformation being a practicing Catholic was for many people impossible
    Although it has to be said that Catholic bloody Mary put more people to death
    for fatih crimes than all the other Tudor monarchs put together.
    Brief back of the fag packet politican history of England

    • spesalvi23

      Reformation? In England? Sorry. No.
      Reformation happened in the land of Luther who actually had some valid reasons for complaint and who did not seek a division but an internal reformation – unlike that rather nutty king who had his own personal reasons to split off.
      Lutherans are very proud of the reformation (I used to be one of those).
      The Church of England has nothing to do with any type of reformation.

      • gerry

        Very true; its pick & mix [seriously]. But maybe its turned out as ‘a good thing’ to take Anthony’s [near] 1066 And All That analogy a step further.

      • Well actually what happened, spesalvi23, is that Henry VIII sent Cranmer to Germany to try and negotiate his divorce. This wasn’t going to happen but Cranmer picked up with Luther’s mates and brought the concepts of protestantism back to England … so actually the English and Lutheran reformations are not separate movement but connected. So you are wrong – the Church of England does have something to do with any type of reformation. Even if it was only because of Cranmer’s desire to get married himself – which, of course, he wouldn’t have been able to as a Catholic priest. All this is explained in some detail on the page … although as I state it is a back of a fag packet analysis.

        • spesalvi23

          Sure you can twist that little trip and a meeting with Luther’s ‘mates’ into your own reformation.
          It’s nonsense – but if you’re happy with it… feel free.

      • Pedro

        “The Church of England has nothing to do with any type of reformation.”

        The Church of Scotland would have a similar view of Lutherans. :)

  • fd

    On this matter, I suggest you read this letter to the editor on the Avvenire newspaper and the answer . the Avvenire editor says that , after all, as the Pope told us ,we should be afraid only of our sins and , as far as what the reader says ( this is not a good moment for Catholicism in our country) he answers: that’s not true: every moment which is given to us is good.

    The throws of mud and our DUTY
    Dear Editor,
    is there an explanation of why Catholicism in Italy, which is not living a happy moment, become, ‘intermittent’ something palatable for the TV and newspapers that are just away from the Catholic world? And because the same newspapers and TV, then do not scruple to throw mud on the Church, as has happened several times with the controversy on Ici ( property tax )?
    Marco Sostegni, Vinci (Florence)

    The question is serious, Mr. Supports, and the answer is easy, but surely, we are a sign of contradiction (“nonconformists,” Cardinal Bagnasco told us yesterday ) and we should always have the courage to recognize and bring Christian truth, to testify hope, to practice charity by following the Word and teaching, and listening to our well-formed conscience. Pope Benedict reminds us that attention opportunistic or not, mud or no mud, we have to fear only our sins. He says to give us encouragement and courage, not to quiet us.
    Come then, and – believe me – even for us Catholics is a happy time, as every time which is given to us is happy

  • fd

    oh , Mr supports is a stupid translation by google (which I’ve corrected but not always I notice”) The surname of this person is SOSTEGNI, which in Italian literally means …..supports :)

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>