church: a wounded and wounding body

Bruceherman - Elegy for St. Catherine (2004)‘If I conclude that my Christian brothers or sisters are deeply and damagingly mistaken in their decisions, I accept for myself the brokenness in the Body that this entails. These are my wounds, just as those who disagree with me are wounded by what they consider to be my failure or even betrayal. So long as we still have a language in common and the “grammar of obedience” in common, we have, I believe, to turn away from the temptation to seek the purity and assurance of a community speaking with only one voice and to embrace the reality of living in a communion that is fallible and divided. The communion’s need for health and mercy is inseparable from my own need for health and mercy. To remain in communion is to remain in solidarity with those who are wounded as well as wounding the Church, in the trust that within the Body of Christ the confronting of wounds is part of opening ourselves to healing’.

– Rowan Williams

Image: Bruce Herman, ‘Elegy for St. Catherine’ (2004).



  1. I like this quote. Its challenge is much needed. Especially in the day of so-called statesmen of evangelicalism in the u.s. seemingly doubling down on misogynist and sexist rhetoric and supporting a president who thinks sexual assault is kind of the “right” of powerful men. I suppose, in our current day experience, it feels closer to the experience of the early church as it existed and chaffed against the demonic leadership of the Herods. I like Williams call to obedience as an act of resistance against the “powers” in this but feel a HUGE weight of the absolute impossibility of calling christian people so deeply aligned with empire, “brother” or “sister”. In fact, the use of those words in these cases feels like a mockery and farce.


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