The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

This article appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.

Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …"

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The 2002 Dallas Charter says that no priest credibly accused of sex abuse will be allowed to work in ministry. But what does "credible" mean? And who decides? These are the questions swirling around a pastor from Long Island, N.Y., who is backed by his Rockville Centre diocese.

Parishioners in the Miami archdiocese accuse their pastor of carrying on with a staff member in a same-sex relationship. He is alleged to have used parish funds to finance trips. The parishioners hired an investigator, and the archbishop says they went too far. 

The Neocatechumenal Way comes to a New Jersey parish, thanks to a pastor from Italy who was inspired by the movement. It has proven to be divisive, according to some parishioners, who say it promotes an element of spiritual elitism.

In New England, the Hispanic presence is increasingly felt. Still, the church is slow to respond, and may be losing younger Latinos, according to an expert on ministry to Hispanics.

An author says that the church needs more "intentional disciples" -- and that the parish is the place to form them.

A pastor in the Seattle archdiocese comes to a new parish and brings along his wife.

Faced with similar circumstances of a declining number of priests, many dioceses have decided to close parishes. The Kalamazoo diocese, is trying another way. Pastors there will now oversee more than one parish and parishes will remain open.

[Peter Feuerherd is a professor of communications and journalism at St. John's University in New York and contributor to NCR's Field Hospital blog.]

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