The Field Hospital: St. Louis church welcomes the alienated

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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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Sts. Clare and Francis is a parish in the St. Louis suburbs welcoming all, including gays. It's not a Catholic parish, but its appeal is to those alienated from the church. Sts. Clare and Francis is part of the Ecumenical Catholic Union, which claims 51 churches around the country. The pastor is a former priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis who identifies as gay. 

Mother Teresa relics come to Chicago. 

In the Winona, Minn., diocese, a reorganization plan, including extensive parish mergers, has been put on hold, as the diocese reacts to various circumstances, including the resignation of the vicar general, a main architect of the plan. 

In Montreal, priests are now forbidden from being alone with children, a response to the sex abuse crisis. Victim advocates, including SNAP, argue it is window dressing and a too little, too late response.

In rural Iowa, merged parishes mean pastors spend a lot of their time in cars. 

PBS examines the role of deacons in parishes, focusing in particular on a man in Chicago. Interesting response: the reporter makes a mistake, identifying the deacon as a "layman," technically incorrect, and the comments page goes on about the role of the diaconate, focusing on the deacons' place in the church hierarchy. 

Parishioners in Racine County, Wisconsin, a part of the Milwaukee archdiocese, hear about their rights under the nation's complicated immigration laws.

[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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