The Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle has stepped down from his role with a “heavy heart” and “great sorrow”, saying he can “no longer service the people of the diocese” in the way he would wish.
Right Rev Robert Byrne told parishioners that the role had become “too great of a burden,” and that he intends to return to the Oratorian community in Oxford.
He said the season of Advent had caused him to reflect upon “God’s will” and what the Lord required of him.
The request has been accepted by the pope.
The Archbishop of Liverpool, Most Rev Malcolm McMahon, will oversee the diocese until a successor can be found.
In the letter, the Right Rev Byrne said: “The Church's teachings confirm the Diocesan Bishop needs to be as Christ among the people entrusted to him.
“The office of bishop carries great responsibility to provide spiritual leadership and governance to the diocese. As St John Paul II observed: 'What does the Lord require of us?
What does the Lord require of me?'
“I have recently had need to discern and reflect upon this question for myself and the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. Having done so, and with great sorrow and reluctance, I
have concluded that the office of the Diocesan Bishop.”
He continued: “My own discernment has caused me to recognise that I now feel unable to continue serving the people of the diocese in the way that I would wish.
“Having undertaken this discernment process, and with due consultation with others, I indicated my wish to resign to the Holy Father and he has graciously accepted my request."