Chaplaincy at the Crossroads: Spiritual Care in and for a Multifaith Australia
Even though chaplaincy has been part of Australia’s history since 1788, the theology and praxis of chaplaincy has not been as discussed as it should have been in general or for the various sector chaplaincies such as military, health care, criminal justice, emergency services, educational, industrial and sports. Chaplaincy would appear to be at the crossroads. The mainstream churches have been gradually withdrawing from chaplaincy services yet, at the same time, the need for spiritual care services has been expanding, as seen in the 2019-20 bushfires, and many volunteers have come forward. As well, there has been the movement towards multifaith chaplaincy as Australia’s religious profile has become vastly more diverse over the past three decades.
This paper will deal with the confused nomenclature issue. It will then examine the challenges facing spiritual care and chaplaincy, including (i) pluralisation and integration of faiths other than Christian (Buddhist, Hindu & Muslim), (ii) chaplaincy training, and (iii) spiritual care, all as related to an underlying theological framework based around a ministry of presence, professionalism in institutional settings, and pastoral outreach and social care in multifaith contexts.
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