Western media should not be surprised that Church teaching remains the same, the Bishop of Shrewsbury will say this weekend in a pastoral letter which reflects on Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation.
Bishop Mark Davies will say in the letter for Good Shepherd Sunday: “Many media outlets accurately stated that Catholic teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality remains unchanged. However, some reports expressed disappointment that the Church fails to conform herself to the prevailing western morality.”
Bishop Davies will say in his pastoral letter that the Pope is not a political leader who can devise “new policies to fit the shifting tides of public opinion”, but is the successor of St Peter who bears the immense responsibility of confirming Catholics in the faith of the Church.
“The Church seeks to conform herself to Christ’s Word not to the world. It is with this true pastoral purpose that Pope Francis writes about the family.”
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation urges the Catholic Church to make a “truly pastoral response” to crises facing families all over the world, Bishop Davies will say in the letter, which will be read out in parishes of the diocese over the weekend of April 16-17.
“This task is not merely to point the way for humanity but like the Good Shepherd, to accompany every soul along the often difficult and demanding pathways which lead us to life.’
The Bishop will say that the Pope has grounded his post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), in the truth of marriage and the family revealed by Jesus Christ. As a result, the Catholic Church will be better positioned to offer a genuine and effective pastoral response to the many crises facing the family in the 21st century, the Bishop will suggest.
Bishop Davies will say: “I wish to introduce this document by noting how deeply aware Pope Francis is of the many and varied challenges facing families across the world. In some places it is the impact of extreme poverty, of war or the displacement and migration of peoples. In western societies, Pope Francis speaks of the dimming of the understanding of marriage itself; the impact of moral relativism and gender theory; the effects of pornography; and the mentality of throw-away societies sceptical of lasting commitment.
“Pope Francis is aware that the Church’s pastoral care must take into account these varied challenges while never doubting the power of God’s grace. The Pope shows us how a truly pastoral response must always indicate clearly the path leading to life by unambiguously offering the truth about marriage and the family that has been entrusted to the Church.
“It is this very truth that calls us not to abandon our contemporaries but to be ready, rather, to accompany as they face every struggle, setback and failure. In doing so, we are following the example of the Good Shepherd, who does not abandon a single soul.”