The Need to Digest

Because a Great Deal Was Said...

In the pope's recent interview, there is a great amount of material that needs to be digested. I also remind myself and everyone who reads the document that it is an informal interview and NOT an ex cathedra statement. In the interview, he speaks of prayer, holiness, and direction. Ironically, the mainstream and secular media have given the impression that every word he pronounced, especially if it is favorable to their agenda, must be infallible. An interview is not a teaching document but a commentary.
Pasted Graphic

That being said, the pope used an excellent image with regard to describe the Church - the Church as a field hospital after battle! He said, "You have to heal the wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds… And you have to start from the ground up." It is a powerful image because there are a great many wounds that have come in the spiritual battle, wounds that are a direct result of Sin. The lives of so many people are in disarray spiritually. The wounds of Sin are deep and need to be healed. These wounds include many sins beyond the few that make headlines. But we must be clear in what he said, heal the wounds… and then talk about the rest of the process.

So why do so many think he gave a blanket permission to allow sinful structures to continue when in fact he did not? Part of healing a wound is to correct what caused the injury. It does not make sense to heal a broken leg if the person continues to engage in actions that will threaten the leg. If the person broke his or her leg jumping off the stairs, then part of the healing process will be to have the person stop jumping. If the person broke his or her leg due to a vitamin deficiency, then the healing would require a therapy that improves his or her vitamin balance. And once the initial healing takes place and the person is able to walk, we must always remember that there will be lingering effects from the injury, that is, an ongoing need to heal.

The same is true with the Church as a field hospital. People do cross the threshold with some very serious wounds. The first response must be to help the person by addressing the pain and alleviating the suffering it has caused. But the second part must be a transformation of the individual and his or her life. That is when Christ must be placed first and foremost. That is when a person will want to get to know Christ. That is when Christ can be accepted as Lord and Savior. The learning process will take time and needs to be handled like the skillful nurse who works on rehabilitation. In this image alone the pope has offered a profound direction for the Church of the new millennium but it is not new or innovative. He has only reiterated what the Church has always been -- a place for spiritual healing and rehabilitation.