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Title: Pastoral care of the sick, the dying, and the bereaved in early Swiss and South German protestantism
Author: Olson-Dopffel, Beverly S.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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Medieval pastoral care of the sick, the dead, and the bereaved was largely composed of sacramental sets, confession, the mass, extreme unction. Priestly aid at death was virtually indispensable. In many situations people died without receiving the sacraments - occasions to be feared and prayed against. At least afterwards the souls in purgatory could still be helped through masses and prayers. The Catholic reformers wished to cleanse and utilise this sacramental structure. The Protestant movement's challenges undermined it, leaving the Protestant pastor with baptism, the eucharist, sometimes confession and absolution, all with newly-defined significance. The Protestants' critique of the seven sacraments from a pastoral viewpoint reveals many of their assumptions about proper pastoral ministry, and the dimensions of their agreement on the instruments of that ministry and their meaning. Their ministries to the sick, the dying, and the bereaved were woven of proclamation of the gospel and of the law, of instruction and discipline, of views on temptation, the meaning of suffering and death, and providence. The reformer's own pattern tried to integrate the society in which he worked and his theological opinions. Concentrating on the sections on visiting the sick and on burial in Church Orders of southern Germany and Switzerland, with some from other areas for comparison, the practical expressions as well as theological explanations are sought. These reformers tried to find in a given situation an appropriate balance between certainty and confidence, and repentance and desire for correction. The dying were not to be isolated from the healthy. The former needed the comfort and support from the contact; the latter could be reminded and taught of proper preparation for death. The rituals of a particular community's worship and their interpretation were reflected in the patterns at the bedside. Thus differences between Lutheran and Reformed churches can be traced in their pastoral care, but also distinctions within each group. These sometimes cut across Lutheran/Reformed lines, and in this geographical area, these categories can mislead as much as clarify. While attacking what they saw as the dismal pomp and superstition of Catholic practices, the Protestants were concerned that interment be decent. They agreed that acts surrounding burial served only the living. Some arranged for ministerial participation, others did not. Burials were seen as public occasions, opportunities for expressions of love, social solidarity, belief in the resurrection, and if a sermon were held, for admonitions to repentance and reform. Attitudes and practices regarding deaths of children, sudden deaths, executions of prisoners, suicides, and deaths in epidemics are discussed. They were specific applications of the basic motifs of the Protestant response to deaths - comfort and instruction, patient acceptance of God's will, and grief tempered by hope.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available