Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" is NCRonline's newest blog series, covering life in Catholic parishes across the United States and Canada. The title comes from the words of Pope Francis: "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. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up."
"The Field Hospital" blog will run twice weekly on NCRonline.org along with feature stories and news reports about parish life in the U.S. If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris Young (email@example.com) or Peter Feuerherd (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that we welcome story suggestions from Canada as well.
Something counterintuitive in this story: the demise of churches in rural and small-town Iowa encourages conservative politics and attitudes. The focus here is on Protestant churches which brought people together, both socially and in support of families having a rough time. The stronger argument could be that the closure of churches results in a more disconnected, individualistic culture. Maybe that is at the root of the Trump phenomenon? Could the same be said for the closure of Catholic churches as well? \
Another story about a protest by parishioners of a church closing. The twist here: this is happening in Sunbelt Houston.
From our sister publication: A Place to Call Home, a new series focusing on women religious helping people who are homeless. Read more
The Knights of Columbus are refocusing on parish life. One practical impact: the fraternal order will no longer build new meeting halls, instead using church facilities wherever possible. The idea is to downplay competition between parishes and local Knights' chapters.
Across the country, dioceses are appointing priests to be "missionaries of mercy" to promote the papal Year of Mercy. Qualities looked for are a reputation for welcoming and reconciliation. Here's one such pastor in Richmond, Ky.
The Neocatecumenical Way gains a foothold in Guam, and some Catholics don't like it. The zealous movement has generated controversy in other places as well, including the U.S. mainland.
(Look for future stories in "The Field Hospital" on the issue of securing parish finances)
[Regular Catholic press contributor Peter Feuerherd writes from Queens, N.Y.]