Pope Francis re: Hospital, not Hospice

In his famous interview with editors of several Jesuit magazines, Pope Francis talked about the Church as a field hospital.  The analogy of the Church as hospital goes way back in history and has been used to explain the presence of less-than-virtuous people in the Church.  It’s a commentary on the teaching of Jesus that he has come to save sinners, not just the saints.  The analogy works well when sinners admit they are sinners.

But a hospital is different from a hospice.  In a hospital patients admit that something is wrong with them or they wouldn’t be there.  Patients expect that the efforts to heal them may be painful and the medicine might be bitter.  In a hospice, there is no hope of radical change.  The whole emphasis is on keeping patients comfortable until they die.

The “Church as hospital” analogy falls short when the “patients” think they are all right and in no need of bitter medicine or painful surgery or therapy.  That’s what we have today.  The “healthy” patient and the “sick” staff situation developed when many priests dissented from Humanae Vitae and encouraged their parishioners to think that Humanae Vitae was in error and that they could use unnatural forms of birth control.  They were allowed to think, without challenge, that they were right and the teaching of the Church was wrong.  The situation has become acutely worse today with active homosexuals saying that sodomy is morally permissible and the Church must change its teaching to accept their sodomy.

The Church is not a hospice.  It does not exist to make people comfortable in this life.  As a hospital, it admits all who want to be cured of their self-centered sinfulness.  As a patient in the Church-hospital, the sinner must be willing to change his (or her) ways, take his penitential medicine, and undergo a lifetime of therapy to walk the narrow path with the Lord Jesus.

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