Workshop: "A Theological Medical School: Preparing for Work in a "Field Hospital""


Location: Geddes Hall, Coffee House (View on map )

Pope Francis Workshop Image

A Workshop Exploring Pope Francis’ Invitation to Renew the Church

One of the most influential images used by Pope Francis is the description of the Church as a field hospital. In his interview with Antonio Spadaro in August 2013 Pope Francis said: “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.”

Since then Pope Francis has mentioned the field hospital several times—on March 6, 2014, when addressing parish priests from the Diocese of Rome he described some aspects of the profile of field hospital workers when he remarked: “Priests who are—allow me to say the word—‘aseptic’, those ‘from the laboratory’, all clean and tidy, do not help the Church. Today we can think of the Church as a ‘field hospital’. Excuse me but I repeat it, because this is how I see it, how I feel it is: a ‘field hospital’. Wounds need to be treated, so many wounds!” In his message for the 26th World Day of the Sick the Pope wrote about “the image of the Church as a ‘field hospital’ that welcomes all those wounded by life.” So, the field hospital treats all those wounded by life. “How many wounded there are, how many wounded! How many people who need their wounds to be healed!,” the Pope said in his daily meditation on February 5, 2015. In his address to the participants in the General Assembly of the Focolare Movement on September 26, 2014, Pope Francis translated the image of the field hospital into a language of mission: “Do not remain securely locked inside. This is not good . . . We must go out! Because—I have said this many times—the Church seems like a field hospital.” A field hospital does not have the time and the space to accommodate many formalities Pope Francis observed in his daily meditation on April 1, 2014.

What does it mean to work in a field hospital? What does the image of the field hospital mean for “doing theology” / enacting Catholic social teaching? What does it mean for the studying and teaching of theology? In other words, how can we build the theological equivalent of a medical school, preparing students to be useful and effective in a field hospital?

The three-hour workshop will explore the image of the field hospital in concrete terms. This will be a contribution to commemorating the first five years of Pope Francis’ pontificate and also a contribution to rethinking theology as a discipline to be studied, taught, and practiced.

This workshop is a follow-up to the symposium held on April 3 — Five Years of Francis’ Papacy: Prospects for Peace, the Poor, and the Planet. 

A continental breakfast will be provided.

Workshop Schedule

8.30–9.00 a.m. | Pope Francis and the image of a field hospital

Rev. Kevin Sandberg C.S.C., Acting Executive Director, Center for Social Concerns, Common Good Initiative Director

Clemens Sedmak, Keough School of Global Affairs, Professor of Social Ethics; Center for Social Concerns, Advisor in Catholic Social Tradition

9.00–9.30 a.m. | Student Presentations: examples of field hospital work

Discipleship: Loving Action Students

9.30–10.00 a.m. | Faculty Presentations: working in a field hospital

Colleen Moore, Director, Echo, McGrath Institute for Church Life

Bill Mattison, Senior Advisor, Theological Formation, Alliance for Catholic Education; Associate Professor of Theology 

10:00–10.15 a.m. | Break

10:15–11.00 a.m. | Presentation of field hospital training course elements

Clemens Sedmak

Sarah Bueter and Marissa Browne, Theology major and Catholic Social Tradition minor students

11.00–11.30 a.m. | Panel Discussion

Originally published at