by Dr. Paul Hwang
Director of the Center for Asia Peace and Solidarity under WTI
Chairperson of Theological Committee of Pax Romana- ICMICA
I would like to begin this essay with Pope Francis’ well known ideas of Church as “field hospital” and which “goes forth” to the marginalized. In the papal exaltation Evanglii Gaudium, he mentions Church to go forth many times by which he means as follows: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.” (no. 49) This ecclesiological view goes well with and is more strongly expressed in his view on church as “field hospital”. He said, “I see the church as a field hospital after a battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugar! You have to heal his wounds.”
However, realities of the churches in Asia and the world including Roman Curia hardly find a right subject or force to push through the job within the church communities. There has been an urgent need for their renewal about which Francis points out: there is “ecclesial structures which can hamper efforts at evangelization” (no.26). Yes, it is a problem of structure or “structural sin” seen in the current hierarchical structure of the church everywhere. He goes further that the renewal of structures demanded by “pastoral conversion” can only be understood in this light.