Inside a small English church dedicated to St. Columba, a congregation of Catholics gathered, sitting in the midst of 2,500 years of marriage.

As they celebrated marriage as a blessing to society, they also received a warning: speak up on behalf of marriage now, before doing so becomes taboo.

Bishop Mark Davies of the Diocese of Shrewsbury celebrated Mass on Feb. 14 for over 50 couples who were commemorating their anniversaries of marriage, which collectively added up to more than 2,500 years. One couple, Vincent and Mollie Mooney, were recognizing their 65th year together.

While the faithful applauded and cheered for the couples who were united in marriage, the bishop cautioned that this union is increasingly becoming silenced throughout society.

"We cannot fail to observe an extraordinary phenomenon in our own society by which marriage becomes increasingly 'unmentionable.' Politicians speak of 'new forms of family' but often seem afraid to speak of marriage itself," Bishop Davies explained.

He went on to note that in schools, teachers are cautious to even propose the model of traditional marriage to children in the classroom, afraid of being considered too narrow-minded. Inspectors have also questioned young children in school as to whether their teachers are promoting conventional understandings of the family, making them less eager to speak openly about marriage.

Amidst this societal intimidation, the bishop encouraged his flock to speak up in the name of marriage and not be afraid to proclaim the blessings that the sacrament brings to couples, families, and society itself.

Marriage, he stated, is a vital and beneficial institution that serves the good of society by providing stability in family life.

In a culture where the breakdown of the family has led to catastrophic consequences, promoting marriage is increasingly important, he stressed, adding that the Catholic Church has found herself among the last voices who are willing to speak out on marriage, as defined by the strong foundation of lasting and life-giving union between one man and one woman.

With the upcoming General Election in May, Bishop Davies told couples that they should take the moral lead and become courageous examples of the good news of marriage, especially when it comes to voting. He urged those who will be elected into Parliament to support marriage despite the quiet societal intimidation that urges silence.

"I want, therefore, to encourage you today to speak up about marriage, to speak uninhibitedly of the good of marriage! In this you speak not simply from your personal experience but from our faith that marriage is God's plan for the health and happiness of the family, and indeed, for the whole of human society," he urged.

Together with the Church, faithful couples can help restore the shattering collapse of families, he emphasized, saying that the good of society rests in the hands of marriage.

"Let us never be afraid to speak of the good news that is marriage!"