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xv.

Likewise, we must reach out to members of other religions recognising that the same Spirit is at work in the lives of members of other religions in ways that we cannot articulate. It is important always to remember that ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue go hand in hand with evangelisation. In both contexts we proclaim our faith in its fullness and look for the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those to whom we reach out.

   

xvi.

A spirit of openness and receptivity is vital within the communion of the Catholic Church. We must be inclusive of different spiritualities and different gifts. Most importantly for the flourishing of this diocese, we must be inclusive of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity that characterises so much of our diocese. This is a genuine blessing and it must figure significantly in any plans for the future. We need on the one hand to celebrate the specific gifts of the different groups that are in our parishes and on the other hand to draw people together in a new and enhanced experience of Catholicity that is a gift for our times. And our Christian faith must inevitably lead us to reach out to the poor, the suffering, the marginalised.

Facing the Future

xvii.

All this needs to figure in our minds and imagination if we are to be true to our calling as we think about changes in structures and organisation in the diocese. The next section of this paper will outline a process of consultation that I hope will help all of us to take ownership of the present situation and to identify the context for future developments. Here I would simply indicate some principles that derive from the vision I have sought to present. We need to be open-minded and creative. We may need to think not simply in terms of our own parish but of the wider community, particularly, I suggest, the deanery. Already in some places parishes are sharing resources in areas like sacramental preparation. It may be that the deployment of clergy and the availability of the Eucharist will undergo change, but this should not be an occasion for alarm or concern. But it is important to remember that the present style and level of pastoral provision is of quite recent origin. In the three centuries following the Reformation, the communion and mission of the Church was lived out in a very different way from the parish structures that developed after 1850. The future will be different and, crucially, will be characterised by greater involvement and collaboration among all the baptised - lay and ordained - all who are in full communion with the Church. The gifts and the ideas of all need to be

   

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