You are on page 1of 7

Finger 1

Logan Finger
Cynthia Mazzant
English 137H
14 October 2015

The Church as Field Hospital: Pope Francis Focuses on the Deep Wounds of Humanity

Many religions have spent a large amount of time and resources trying to stop or at least
hinder the spread of gay marriage and other forms of unnatural partnerships as well as abortion
and contraception methods. This can be directly evidenced in the Catholic Church for instance.
Numerous movements have been instituted with these exact goals in mind, but the words of Pope
Francis, who some may describe as the most liberal pope to date, threaten the basis for these
activities. In an interview with Fr. Antonio Sparado, the pope went on to talk about how the
Church as a whole must change its focus (Sparado). Currently, its main focus on issues the of
gay marriage, abortion, and contraceptives; As a result, it is losing the fundamentals of the
religion, that being, the love of God is inclusive to everyone and the role of the Church is simply
to let His love be known to all. Only then can the church include the consequences of immoral
actions. This is the perspective that Pope Francis thinks the members of the Church and
humanity in general should take because only then are we following and living the Gospel and
Gods commands fully. In order to show the prevalence of the issues and their significance to the
public, the Pope expresses his viewpoint quite effectively and extensively with great emphasis
and conviction.
Homosexuality, abortion, and contraceptive methods have origins that far predate the
modern day Catholic Church. We can first look to the Bible for a historical account of
homosexuality that antecedes the institution of the Church. In Genesis 19, we see Sodom and

Finger 2

Gomorrah on the verge of annihilation by God because they have been committing wrongful acts
against chastity, namely homosexuality and presumably bestiality (Genesis 19). For perhaps the
first example of abortion, we must go back to circa 1760 BC. During this time period we see
evidence of punishments for performing or receiving an abortion in the Code of Hammurabi. We
also see accounts of abortions taking place in the modern era within Greco-Roman society
(Gracida). Lastly, contraceptive methods have been used as far back as ancient times within
Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization. These methods included everything from covering the
cervix with honey and sodium carbonate to using crocodile dung as a pessary (Purlackee).
Because of the long history of these issues, it is evident why the Church has put such a large
emphasis on combatting these problems and also the reason why Pope Francis is trying to shift
the view of the Church as a whole to include bigger, more pressing issues.
With this background information we can dive into his numerous examples and evidence
that he uses to help support his claim and persuade his audience to see through his eyes. He starts
the interview, after being prompted with the questions, What does the church need most at this
historic moment? Do we need reforms? What are your wishes for the church in the coming
years? What kind of church do you dream of? by first giving his perception of the Church at this
point in time. He describes the Church as a field hospital-it is the Churchs responsibility to take
care of the seriously wounded. In this case, he is referring to the seriously wounded as anyone
who is in need of the mercy and the saving grace of the Lord. He then proceeds with the analogy
by explaining that one would never ask a seriously injured person if he had high cholesterol or
low blood sugar, he would first and foremost focus on the largest, deepest wounds and not the
petty ailments. In Franciss opinion however, the Church has deviated away from this mentality,
where the largest wounds plaguing society such as poverty and hunger, are instead being

Finger 3

replaced with small things like abortion and gay marriage, stating The church sometimes has
locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules Here we see how Francis is attempting
to show sympathy for those individuals that have been somewhat driven away by the church in
an effort to bring them back and show that they are always welcome. In addition to this he pulls
on the heartstrings of the remaining audience by invoking an image of an extremely injured
person in need of our help and mercy. This also establishes and reinforces his credibility and
morality as a speaker by displaying his compassion and loving nature in a way similar to the
nondenominational church in downtown State College, PA that hung a rainbow flag that says
God is Still Speaking, from its steeple as if to say they were willing to welcome and accept any
and all people as well.
Continuing with this idea, he goes on to talk about how the church must be a shepherdess
to all and much like the Good Samaritan must wash, clean and raise up his neighbor. Although
he says that, simply acclaiming that the doors are open and that all are welcome is not enough.
We must, as he puts it, find new roads and bring the faith and the love of God to the people
that are not going to mass, have quit, or are indifferent. Using the popes previous statement, Fr.
Sparado then asks Francis what the Church can do to in the cases of those who feel condemned
by the church such as the divorced and remarried and same-sex couples. The pope responds by
explaining that we must proclaim the Gospel and by doing so heal the wounds and diseases that
plague society. This is done through the love of God rather than through the excommunication of
these persons. He gives an example of a letter he received from a homosexual in Buenos Aires
when he was the Archbishop there. The letter expressed that the writer felt socially wounded
because it seemed as if the Church had outright condemned him. Francis follows this up by
quoting himself were he said, [] that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search

Finger 4

of God, I am no one to judge. This is the view that he begs everyone to take because, as he puts
it, the Church [] has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in
creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person. And thus
we must look at each other as brothers and sisters in Christ with the intention of guiding them in
the right direction rather than from the eyes of the supreme magistrate. Once again we see the
extent of his good nature and loving character that draws his audience in to the point to where
they are basically putty in his hands. The sculpting of his audience begins by including a piece
of the well-known biblical story of the Good Samaritan and then brings it home by relating it to
his own story. To even a non-Christian both stories are recognizable and relatable and this is
where his use of logic comes in, which is only strengthened by his trustworthiness and
knowledge of religious history and affairs.
Pope Francis then uses this as a transition to talk about the main focus of the modern-day
Church. He leads by stating that, We (the Church) cannot insist only on issues related to
abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. He continues by saying that these
issues must be talked about in context and not just by throwing the book at the people that do not
follow the doctrine. They must be utilized in a missionary approach where the foundations and
basis of the faith are taught. This will be more appealing to individuals outside of the faith- that
is what will make the heart burn because on our current track, we are threatening the ethical
edifice of the Church which is supposed to reflect the purity of the Gospel. He argues that this
can be done by not forgetting the main underpinning of Christianity as a whole: the proclamation
of salvation. Finally Pope Francis blatantly comes out and identifies the issues with the way the
Church is ministering and calls us to change by posing some alternatives to the method that is in
use now. This shows yet again the extent of his thinking and knowledge of the topic which

Finger 5

resonates with the audience because it shows how thoroughly educated he is on the subject. Not
to mention the constant emotion that he instills upon the audience up until his last words.
Pope Francis has no trouble supporting his point of view nor does he struggle trying to
convince the audience to be more open and accepting to the people that have been pushed further
and further from the Church. This is intensified by the fact that he is the head of a religion and its
spiritual teachings, especially of arguably the oldest Christian denomination and largest religious
sect in the world with a following of around 1.2 billion people (How Many Roman Catholics
Are There in the World?)(Fairchild). And as if that were not enough the enormous quantity of

appeals and rhetorical techniques that Pope Francis includes in his argument is further magnified
through how his argument is expressed. Being that this information was presented via an
interview, it makes it a lot more personal and engaging for the audience. This is due mostly to the
fact that interviews tend to be quite formal, but Pope Francis does a good job being as inclusive
as possible and instituting a feeling of togetherness. Also, interviews for the most part are not
scripted which limits the interviewee to an answer that better reflects their true beliefs because
they do not have the time to adapt their answers to the audience listening. Despite this lack of
time, Pope Francis was very capable of putting his answers into perspective using analogies and
other figures of speech that help to bring what he was saying to life.
I think we often look at the pope as strictly a Catholic figure because, well, he is the head
of the Church. However, in his many speeches as well as in this interview, he seeks to bring
together people of all different religions, races, ethnicities and sects for the common good of
humanity. In the past it has been evident that Pope Francis and his predecessors have been
successful in doing just this. Take for example Pope Franciss recent visit to the US, a large
amount of people gathered into Washington D.C, New York City, and Philadelphia just to hear

Finger 6

what the pope had to say, this includes people that are not Catholic. I remember being on Twitter
and seeing my friends tweet that said, my mom has been watching the pope on CNN all
morning. We arent even Catholic. (Chichester) This shows just how much attention he receives
and how big his audience truly is. It consists of not only the members of the Catholic Church but
practically the entire world and this demonstrates how influential and appealing he actually is
and nothing displays his persuasiveness better than this speech. He is able to strike a perfect
balance between information and facts as well as appeals in conjunction with the relatability of
his main points through the use of a myriad of figurative speech including anecdotes and
analogies. To me he presents and supports his argument more than adequately and as a result I
think you will find that a lot of people have changed their views and have taken the challenge the
Pope has issued: To focus on the larger wounds that are ailing humanity like poverty and then we
can treat the small injuries.

Finger 7
Works Cited
Chichester, Kylie (@kyliemac721). my mom has been watching the pope on CNN all morning. We
arent even Catholic. 29 Sept. 2015. Wed. 07 Oct. 2015. Tweet.
Fairchild, Mary. "Trace the History of the Roman Catholic Church." About.com
Religion & Spirituality. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
Genesis 19. New International Version. Biblica, Inc., 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.[2]
Gracida, Rene H. "Abortion - Pro Life - Pastoral Letter on Abortion and Excommunication." Abortion Pro Life - Pastoral Letter on Abortion and Excommunication. N.p., 8 Sept. 1990. Web. 07 Oct.
2015.[3]
"How Many Roman Catholics Are There in the World? - BBC News." BBC News. BBC,
14 Mar. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
Purlackee, Sarah. "Medscape Log In." Medscape Log In. WebMD LLC., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.[4]
Sparado, Fr. Antonio. "Interview with Pope Francis." The Holy See. The Vatican Publishing House, 21
Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.