By Peter Jennings
“The strong support of many of our Churches and faith communities for the traditional understanding of marriage cannot be overlooked. This message from the faith communities is a reminder that the Government needs to listen carefully to the voices of ordinary people.”
“It cannot be presumed that everyone is in favour of same-sex marriage because a vocal minority has captured the attention of the media,” stressed the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, during the Annual Civic Mass, at the Metropolitan Cathedral & Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, on the Solemnity of Christ the King on Sunday.
The Archbishop of Birmingham emphasized: “At the same time faith communities must welcome a wider public debate in which we can dialogue with those who oppose our views.”
Archbishop Longley, Chairman of the Department for Dialogue and Unity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “Faith leaders represent traditions that respect the rule of law while preserving the right to reflect critically on the principles that underpin our laws.”
“The wisdom of the scriptures and traditions that we have received and the experience of many generations of believers have significant consequences for our contribution to the common good. We have inherited a responsibility to offer critical insights, based upon values received through faith, to those who formulate and interpret our laws, and always offered with due respect to the responsible authorities.”
Archbishop Longley added: “Each civic service provides a glimpse into the life of the faith community offering its welcome. It also enables that faith community to listen to the common concerns of our fellow citizens as they are heard and discerned by those in public life who are charged with making a response.”
At the start of the Civic Mass Archbishop Bernard Longley welcomed the distinguished civic visitors present.
The beautiful Kyrie & Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Die from the Mass in Honour of St Joseph, together with the Jubilate Die, by Flor Peeters (1903-1986) the renowned Belgian composer, organist and teacher, were sung by the St. Chad’s Cathedral Singers, conducted by Professor David Saint, Organist and Director of Music. During Communion, the choir sang the Ave Verum with music by Colin Mawby, former Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral.
The National Anthem was sung and the joyful sound of the final hymn, Christ is made the sure foundation, reverberated throughout every corner of St. Chad’s Cathedral. It was a memorable and inspirational occasion in the life of the Archdiocese of Birmingham in this Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI, in Rome during October.