“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. 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.”
– Pope Francis, America: The National Catholic Review, September 2013
In 2013, Pope Francis famously likened the church to a field hospital. Renowned theologian, William Cavanaugh, takes hold of this metaphor and explores the meaning of it in his latest book, ‘Field Hospital: The Church's Engagement with a Wounded World’.
“I think in some senses, what Pope Francis is trying to do is to recapture the sense that you find in the earliest church where things are very decentralized,” Cavanaugh explains. “What you had was not very tightly institutionalized, but was more based on small communities of people taking care of each other’s needs.”
“It’s a response to the kind of one-on-one, flesh-to-flesh encounter with another person who suffers.”
In this episode of Life & Faith, we talk about how the church can operate as a ‘field hospital’, and why it is important for the church to do so.
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