Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said the “twilight of Christian England” is not “entirely negative” as it puts demands on Christians to be clearer about what their faith is and how they should stand up for it.
In a homily at the Northern Catholic Conference at Liverpool Hope University on Sunday the bishop said that in a decade Christianity will be the faith of a “significant minority” in Britain.
This momentous change, he said, “may not be an entirely negative development as it dispels any ambiguity and requires of Christians a greater clarity in both teaching and witness”.
He pointed out that debates about marriage showed an “incomprehension” about the Christian foundations of society and urged Christians to challenge the social consensus.
The bishop said: “I know many voices may urge us to leave well alone, not to disturb what appears dead in our society. Should we not be realistic and concede that the defence of human life, the identity of marriage and the integrity of the family is all but lost? Should we best remain silent so as not to weaken the Church’s increasingly, precarious standing in society?
“We might, indeed, be tempted to speak only of those concerns which accord with the social consensus around us. Pope Francis, however, shows us a different approach by his startlingly, direct way of speaking and the clear witness of his actions. In the North of England we certainly understand plain speaking!
“The contemporary world, Pope Francis has shown us, is often more ready to listen and take notice than we as Christians are ready to speak or give witness. Amid the twilight of a Christian England this witness will shine out more clearly.”