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WYD 2011: Bishop Mark Davies urges young to stand with the Pope

Pilgrims from Britain attend a catechetical session at World Youth Day yesterday (Mazur/

The Bishop of Shrewsbury has encouraged young people to adhere to the teachings of the Pope if they want to make the right decisions on matters of faith and morals.

“Some of your behaviour on the streets of our cities alarmed the media, left public opinion shaken and brought an unexpected statement from the Prime Minister,” Bishop Mark Davies told groups of English pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid.

But rather than the recent riots he was speaking of when Pope Benedict visited Britain last year.
“Many people were struck by the quiet wisdom and obvious goodness of this elderly man who’d been so vilified in the months leading up to his visit,” he said. But what surprised many commentators was how many of the crowd were young people.

“How could this quietly spoken intellectual in his 80s speaking a demanding message hold such a place in the lives of young people from every background in 21st century Britain?” he asked.
Bishop Davies spoke of the first pope, the fisherman Simon whom Jesus renamed Peter, the rock on whom he would build his Church.

Whatever St Peter’s personal failings Jesus gave him the keys to his kingdom and made him the shepherd of his whole flock. The person who now holds those keys is Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St Peter, the bishop said.

“When I was a lot younger than yourselves amid the turmoil and controversies of that time my parish priest gave me a simple piece of advice, a wise counsel I wish to pass on to you. ‘Stand with the Pope,’ he told me, ‘always stand with the Pope and you won’t go wrong.’

“And that’s what I want to say to you today, the understanding I want you to take home with you from the experience of standing here together with Pope Benedict in the heat of Madrid. Amid the turmoil and controversies as to what to you can surely believe, how you should truly live which will mark your lifetimes, stand with Peter, stand with the Pope.”

Whoever the Holy Father happens to be, Bishop Davies said, “if the faith is contested, if morals become confused, be sure you are always standing with the Pope just as you did in London, Birmingham and today in Madrid. For standing together with Peter you will never, as I was advised as a young teenager, go wrong in faith or the moral choices which shape our lives. In this you may shock media commentators, disturb public opinion and even take to the streets with prayer and generosity as you’re doing here in Madrid.”