Imagining the future: A diocese in north east England takes the collapse in clergy numbers as an opportunity for renewal
Can Catholics deepen their faith even as the Church appears to be shrinking in size and losing confidence? It’s a question the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is currently attempting to address. Three years ago, on 16 July 2014, the bishop, Séamus Cunningham, announced what appeared to some to be an audacious programme, not of rescue and survival, but of development and renewal.
The world came out good from the hand of God. However, the presence of evil remains an enigma, a disturbing element that man cannot stand. He is impatient as the servants in the parable. He asks himself: "Where did the weeds come from?" Frenzy, to immediately solve the tensions he experiences, takes over him. He ends up resorting to worse remedies of evil. He becomes intolerant and ruthless with himself and with others. He punishes cruelly, launches holy wars and gets carried away by anger that "never fulfills the justice of God” (Jas 1:20).
The mark of genuine contrition is not a sense of guilt, but a sense of sorrow, of regret for having taken a wrong turn; just as the mark of living in grace is not a sense of our own worth but a sense of being accepted and loved despite our unworthiness. We are spiritually healthy when our lives are marked by honest confession and honest praise.