Bishop John Arnold.
Salford Diocese UK - Bishop John Arnold has launched a radical restructuring plan to close 75 of his 150 churches. The reason for this is that it is simply too expensive to keep empty churches open.
He has, however, managed to find the money last November to appoint Emma Gardner as 'Head of Environment' to oversee the dioceses ambitious Laudato Si Center. Gardener's last position as head of environmental sustainability at the University of Manchester was advertised as up to £62,727 ($87,401) depending on experience. A source tells me that the amount she is being paid by Salford diocese is well in excess of double that. Regardless, it seems that the priority for Bishop John Arnold is not to fill his empty churches by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but to close them and save the planet instead.
Perhaps this is what the young people really want? Greenchurch right? EcoChristianity? How modern! That's what will get the churches booming again, right?!
Well, if that is the case then why are all the young Catholics, and all the young families to be found in the traditional parishes? I'll tell you why - because they seek God.
My personal belief is that climate change is a natural phenomenon. And crucially, it is a natural phenomenon that we do not have the power to change. This desire to change and fix things in the outside world is something I have seen again and again in people. It stems from our desire to control the things around us, and also from our desire not to change the one thing we do have control over - ourselves. It's a distraction.
Whether it be raising money for starving orphans in Africa, a cure for Cancer, or saving the planet, these things are all too often a welcome distraction from the real things we need to change about ourselves. It's so unbearably dull, this focus on good works - a false theology recycled over and over again for several boring generations.
It is much more palatable for a priest to ask people for money, than to invite them to confession. It is much easier to feel you have absolved yourself by recycling your plastic, than to quit using artificial contraception in your marriage. Doing good works is not a substitute for prayer. It is not a substitute for personal holiness. A plant based diet is not a substitute for the Eucharist.
ANY GOOD ATHEIST CAN RAISE MONEY AND RECYCLE!!! The Church is here to save souls - not save the planet.
As Salford diocese continues to decline, it is the traditional parishes and communities that continue to grow. I am left asking myself who it is that Salford diocese actually worships? Christ, or Pachamama?
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