I recently traveled to Rome to join a gathering of representatives from several countries contemplating the question of what happens to decommissioned – i.e. closed – Catholic churches. Prompted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, the international and multi-lingual participants considered both theological and social aspects to the “appropriate” adaptive reuse of church buildings. Pope Francis offered his own remarks on the topic, and Vatican-approved guidelines will soon be made public.
What does this mean for how we think about religion in modern cities and communities? These questions inform my current book project, with funding support from the Louisville Institute and Appalachian College Association.