THIS very fine book brings together a collection of papers presented at a symposium held at St Mary’s College, Oscott, in 2015. The editors state their intention of “illuminating and honouring” the stories of those for whom the healing ministry of the Church is both a lived experience and daily practice. Pope Francis’s use of the image of the Church as a “field hospital” provides both the theme of the synopsis and the book’s title. The edited papers represent the work and considerable practical experience of 15 authors.
These include, in an attempt to provide some credible answers from their own deeply reflective personal experiences, Barry Mizen, father of the murdered 16 year-old Jimmy killed in 2008; Fr Shaun O’Neill, who lived alongside addicts in one of 60 addict-run Cenacolo Communities; Elizabeth McGurk, a lay prison chaplain who founded the Open Gate Mentoring Project; and Sophia Burley, who worked with women trafficked into the sex industry.
The range of subjects covered in just 300 pages is staggering: sacraments, priestly formation, lay ministry, abortion, sexual abuse, psychotherapy, prostitution, residential therapeutic communities, murder, and parish life. Each of the 20 chapters and two appendices is excellently summarised in a succinct introductory paragraph of just ten lines.
The most important of the many questions that relate to human brokenness and the place of the Church’s healing ministry and are addressed in this collection is how the Church listens to and hears the “cries of the wounded”, and why the Church appears to be so inadequately equipped to exercise her God-given charisms of healing.
Healing Wounds is far more than the summary of an academic conference: it is a work of considered theological reflection, a handbook of exemplary practice, and a timely clarion call to the whole Church to engage urgently and creatively in the reconciling and healing work of Christ.
Not since the report to the C of E’s House of Bishops A Time to Heal, in 2000, has there been such an important summons to Christians of all denominations to “put out into the deep”.
Canon Stephen Evans is Rector of St Marylebone, home to the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, and the Marylebone (NHS) Health Centre, in London.
Healing Wounds in the Field Hospital of the Church
Alan Guile and Jim McManus, editors
Church Times Bookshop £14.40