The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

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by Peter Feuerherd

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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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Honors may be bestowed on a Bronx church for its classic architecture. But landmark designation is a decidedly mixed blessing for a poor parish.

Does your church have a cross or a crucifix? Or both? The symbols illustrate something different about the death and resurrection message. One theologian argues that avoiding the crucifix's depiction of Jesus on the cross is a way our society evades contemplating suffering.

Signs of a Francis effect not being felt in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., if that is reflected in the numbers of new converts. This Easter the number of newly-baptized adults is down slightly.

A Polish National Catholic church in Ohio attracts Catholics who have lost their own parishes. The church, an offshoot from Roman Catholicism, keeps its Eastern European traditions and liturgical style.

There's been a rash of decapitations and desecrations of statues of the Virgin Mary in Boston-area parishes. No one so far knows the motivation or likely suspects. 

[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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