Evangelii Gaudium

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Coat of Arms of Pope Francis

Evangelii Gaudium (English: The Joy of the Gospel) is a 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on "the church's primary mission of evangelization in the modern world."[1] It has been described as a "remarkable and radical document, one that ranges widely and challenges complacency at every level,"[1] as well as "the manifesto of Francis"[2] and a "Magna Carta for church reform."[2]

Evangelii Gaudium touches on many of the themes of Francis' papacy, including obligations Christians have to the poor, and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders. Francis says that the world "can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market" and calls for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality"[3] that "attack[s] the structural causes of inequality."[4] Refocusing society's priorities, he asks how "it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"[5]

Calling for an "ecclesial renewal which cannot be deferred,"[6] Francis is critical of the over-centralization of church bureaucracy, poor preaching, and excessive emphasis on doctrine. Additionally, it calls for more pastoral creativity and openness, and a “pastoral conversion” in papal ministry.

In contrast to the writing style of previous popes, Evangelii Gaudium is not written in an academic style but "in language that is both easily understood and captivating."[1] In the 47,560 word document, Francis uses the word "love" 154 times, "joy" 109 times, "the poor" 91 times, "peace" 58 times, "justice" 37 times, and "common good" 15 times.[7]

Content[edit]

Introduction[edit]

In the first chapters the Pope cites several Bible passages that show the relationship between the joy of receiving the Christian faith and the joy of missionary activity. Francis then offers several themes for the exhortation of the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach; the temptations faced by pastoral workers; the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes; the homily and its preparation; the inclusion of the poor in society; peace and dialogue within society; the spiritual motivations for mission.[8]

Chapter I: The Church's Missionary Transformation[edit]

In this chapter Francis underlines the importance of the parish "because it possesses great flexibility",[9] and asks oratories, ecclesiastical movements, prelatures, and other communities in the church, to join the activities of the local parish.[10] He also shows the responsibility that bishops have for the missionary activities in their own diocese.[11] In this context, the Pope says he's ready to reform the Papacy and that he's "open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it".[12]

Chapter II: Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment[edit]

The chapter is divided in two sections: the first one, Some challenges of today’s world, deals with economic matters, poverty, and modern culture. It also mentions the new religious movements and moral relativism. The second section, Temptations faced by pastoral workers, describes two errors commonly faced by Christians: first the "attraction of Gnosticism" that offers "a faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information"; the second is "the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism" of those who "feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past" with "a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism".[13] He also noted that "In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy".[14]

Chapter III: The Proclamation of the Gospel[edit]

Francis describes thoroughly the importance of the homily, which "should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture",[15] and be prepared with care: "Preparation for preaching is so important a task that a prolonged time of study, prayer, reflection and pastoral creativity should be devoted to it [...] a preacher who does not prepare is not “spiritual”; he is dishonest and irresponsible"[16]

Chapter IV: The Social Dimension of Evangelization[edit]

The fourth chapters deals with many topics: care for the weakest persons ("the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others"),[17] long term politics, and social dialog: the dialog between faith and reason, ecumenical dialog, and inter-religious dialog.

In paragraph 246, Francis teaches that Catholics have a lot to learn from non-Catholics, particularly from Anglicans and the Orthodox, and that it would be very good to make a compromise list of truths that everyone agrees upon, and use those doctrines to help evangelize Africa and Asia. In paragraph 247 he affirms that "As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word. However, while "it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah", "there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word. We can also share many ethical convictions and a common concern for justice and the development of peoples".

In paragraph 254 he teaches that non-Christian rituals of any religion can have a divine origin, that they are "a communitarian experience of journeying towards God" and can be "channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism".

Chapter V: Spirit-filled Evangelizers[edit]

The last part of the exhortation deals with the personal relationship with Christ and the imitation of the Virgin Mary as an icon of joy and missionary activity.[18]

Influences[edit]

Most of the exhortation is Francis' own personal insight. His text cites several sources. The main source is the Propositions of the synodal fathers of the XIII assembly of the Synod of Bishops, cited 27 times. Among Church Fathers, Francis cites Irenaeus of Lyon, Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo. Among medieval teachers he cites Isaac of Stella, Thomas Kempis, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Modern authors cited by the Pope include John Henry Newman, Henri de Lubac, Romano Guardini and Georges Bernanos.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Thavis, John (26 November 2013). "Pope Francis' document delivers wake-up call on evangelization". Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b O'Leary, Naomi (26 November 2013). "Pope attacks 'tyranny' of markets in manifesto for papacy". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-26-2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Francis 2013, p. 204.
  4. ^ Francis 2013, p. 202.
  5. ^ Francis 2013, p. 53.
  6. ^ Francis 2013, p. 27.
  7. ^ Lasky, Mike Jordan (26 November 2013). "Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium: Work for justice at the heart of discipleship". Millennial. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  8. ^ Francis 2013, p. 17.
  9. ^ Francis 2013, p. 28.
  10. ^ Francis 2013, p. 29.
  11. ^ Francis 2013, p. 31.
  12. ^ Francis 2013, p. 32.
  13. ^ Francis 2013, p. 94.
  14. ^ Francis 2013, p. 95.
  15. ^ Francis 2013, p. 138.
  16. ^ Francis 2013, p. 145.
  17. ^ Francis 2013, p. 210.
  18. ^ Rino Fisichella in his press converence in the Vatican
  19. ^ Lorenzo Baldisseri in his Press conference in the Vatican

External links[edit]