Doctors for Terror, Monks, and Hospitals

I have beeen very concerned by the recent attempts at terrorism in the UK. For me, the most alarming factor here is they were mostly involved in the health care profession. In the West there is a profound connection between Christianity and healthcare. In fact the idea of a hospital is linked to the Christian pilgrimage. Christians would go on pilgrimage to a holy place (like Jerusalem) where they would wait for God's healing to come to them. Monks and nuns eventually set up places for these sick people--hospitals--and cared for them.

Here we might look at the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John, later the Knights of Rhodes, and now (yes, now, they are still around), the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. They founded a hospital in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims in the 11th C, during the period when the city was part of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. They were a militant order, and were also dedicated to providing for the physical well-being of pilgrims. Yes, that means they fought with people, because a pilgrimage to Jerusalem was not always very safe in those days.

My point is this: the idea of caring for health and seeking healingg for the dying is profoundly Christian. The very idea of the hospital is directly connected to Christian, specifically monastic, history. But we in the West bear some fault here, friends. We have exported our technology and medical expertice without also teaching the Christian ethic of life.

What a curious thing it is: the linkage between the idea of the hospital as a place for healing and care, and the idea of martial defense were brought together because of the practice of Christians going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This is the sort of thing that requires deep theological and historical reflection.

You can check out currrent info on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) at Wikipedia, it is still a valid religious order in the Roman Catholic church, by the way.

There is a great collection of articles on the subject of the recent UK terror attempts at Counterterrorismblog

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