New Zealand army chaplains at war : 2 NZEF 1939 - 1945
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15594
This thesis investigates the motivations to engage in, and the pastoral and sacramental work of, the 1939-45 World War Two chaplains of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and it explores the theological framework, and theology in which such chaplaincy was carried out. It concludes by noting significant factors and issues of concern to chaplains and their churches in respect of the transition from war to peace. Historical models of military chaplaincy are found in Constantine’s Roman Empire of 312-337CE, the Christian Crusades of 1096-1291, and the later British Empire. Features of these models provide a tool for understanding and interpreting many aspects of the work and role of the military chaplains of this study. The impact of Christian pacifism is considered, as it is one of the influences which came to bear upon the decision of some clergy who enlisted as chaplains. Chaplains were recruited from eight denominations and they demonstrated a common pastoral concern for all who were engaged in the various theatres of war. Through the introduction of the concept of ecumenical unit chaplaincy, the battalion became the padre’s parish where he conducted worship, exercised pastoral skills, read the liturgies and preached the Gospel. This became the corner-stone of an ecumenical chaplaincy which developed throughout the war years. Despite the exigencies of war a Bible Class network, church parades - both voluntary and compulsory - and a wide range of religious activities contributed to a spiritual programme which met the needs of a largely nominal Christian 2NZEF. There emerged from the experience of worship within the 2NZEF a pragmatic ecumenical approach to many aspects of chaplaincy, including in particular the practice, at least for Protestants, of inter-communion. Roman Catholic practice and theological understanding of the Eucharist was enriched by a particular New Zealand contribution. The isolation of the Pacific theatre, coupled with the maturing of the Chaplain’s Department through the Middle East experiences, resulted in a heightening of ecumenical development within the 3rd Division chaplaincy. The chaplain’s skills in pastoral matters were required to maintain morale, cope with death, wounding and captivity. They are defined first from a military perspective and then examined from a biblical viewpoint. It is primarily in reference to chaplains’ skills associated with the battlefield context, although other situations are included, that issues of pastoral ministry are identified and discussed. The Maori chaplains’ task is discussed in reference to the tohunga of pre-Christian times. Unlike their Pakeha (European) associates. Maori chaplains had access to individuals of influence within New Zealand Maori politics, a factor which was of particular significance. Almost all chaplains had a belief in the natural justice of World War Two and this thesis will suggest they believed that not to have embarked upon war would have led to infinitely more serious problems for both civilization and the Christian Church. Throughout the war years there was an identified and distinct implicit theological framework which underwrote their attitudes and actions. Their opinions, theological framework and ideology, regarding the war arose both from the ministerial duties they performed and their battlefield experience of war itself. The model of New Zealand chaplaincy is defined and compared with the classical models noted at the beginning of the thesis. At the end of the war, the 2NZEF Chaplains’ Department held a series of Leadership Schools. These Schools, involving laymen of all denominations. addressed a series of transitional religious and social issues, the outcomes of which were to develop over the decades following WW2. The concluding chapter summarizes a Theology of Chaplaincy which has developed from the foregoing study.
The University of Waikato
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