The Catholic Church Regarding the Physically and Spiritually Sick in the Light of Selected Legal Texts of Eastern Christianity in 4th century


Abstract

The article describes the Church’s standpoint regarding physically and spiritually sick people. The article considerations are based on the analysis of Eastern Christian Legal texts from the 4th century, like: The Sacramentary of Serapion, The Canons of Hippolytus, The Canons of Athanasius, The Apostolic Constitutions, The Canons of the Greek Fathers written by bishops of that time and synods arrangements which were held in the East in the 4th century. The result of that analysis shows that Church ministry towards the sick people was a priority and was well organized. That was introduced in two ways: the material (almsgiving, hospital, and medicines providing), and spiritual (prayer of the local Church performed especially by a bishop and other clerics, visitations by bishop, widows, Church members, and catechumens). The sick received the sacraments on special terms (especially the penance, which in case of the sickness could be shortened). They were granted dispensations of compulsory prayers and fasts, which did not include almsgiving. Spiritually sick people, that is sinners, and heretics were covered with Church’s pastoral care. They were given spiritual remedies like chastening and admonition. In case they continued in sin or heresy, they were expelled so that they did not endanger the spiritual health of other Church members and for the Church’s sake.


Keywords

the ancient Christian Church, care of sick people, sickness, sick people, sin, heresy; Ancient Church; care for the sick; sickness; sick people; sin; heresy

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Published : 2021-06-15


Szczur, P. (2021). The Catholic Church Regarding the Physically and Spiritually Sick in the Light of Selected Legal Texts of Eastern Christianity in 4th century. Vox Patrum, 78, 183-206. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.12292

Piotr Szczur  p_szczur@kul.pl
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II 
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3011-3404