True reform in the Catholic Church will not come from administrative changes under a new Pope but by the renewed faithfulness of all her members, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said.
At a Mass of Thanksgiving for Benedict XVI Bishop Mark Davies said
“A chorus of voices in the days ahead will sound a discordant note insisting we put aside their witness and abandon the sound teaching we have received. I have heard such voices at the time of every Conclave of my own life-time.”
At the Mass, which began as Benedict XVI’s reign ended, he told the congregation at the Church of Holy Angels, Hale Barns, Cheshire, of the constancy of the Petrine office by noting the observation of Blessed John Henry Newman that the Church is as “unchangeable” as Jesus Christ Himself.
The real crisis in the Church is always a “crisis of saints”, Bishop Davies argued, “the need of those men and women outstanding in holiness by which the Church is genuinely renewed in every generation”.
“How foolish it would be to assume that a change of administration rather than a change of heart would bring about true reform,” the Bishop said.
The particular background of the new Pope is of little importance compared with the office, Bishop Davies said, adding that “what matters is that our new Pope will be faithful to the task entrusted to him, truly be a Holy Father for us”.
Bishop Davies strongly urged Catholics to “take no part” in “punditry” over who would replace Benedict. “During my visits to primary schools children often ask me as their bishop such questions: how old are you? which football team do you support? what is your favourite food? Perhaps with a little more adult sophistication we might have the same curiosity about our next Pope. In the days ahead we will hear many apparent experts urging the merits of one candidate or another. I ask you to avoid taking any part in this: the days before us surely demand of Catholics not punditry, but prayer!”