Evangelii Gaudium 2
It is my hope that this Pope’s Page can provide opportunity for each of us to understand what Pope Francis is saying and why he is saying it. There is no substitute for reading the document in its entirety and I encourage you to do so. You can access it at www.vatican.va and then click on Apostolic Exhortations. This is the second in the series. You can read the first article here.
We hear a lot about evangelization in the Church today, about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Many people find this hard to do, even, or perhaps especially, in their own family. Yet we have a great treasure in Jesus Christ and in His promise to be with the Church until the end of time. There are people who have left the Church because of the priests’ abuse scandal and we continue to see headlines about problems in the Vatican that we hope Pope Francis will rectify. People are asked why they follow a Church that is flawed. The Church is human and human beings fail. But the Church is also the mystery of Christ’s presence in the world today and the Sacrament of salvation. We follow Jesus Christ and His promise to be with us always. We do not follow the frailties and failures of people, even if they be priests or bishops. And let us not forget the vast amount of good that is done by the Church and her members. In this context we might listen to Pope Francis on the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.
“9. Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. In this regard, several sayings of Saint Paul will not surprise us: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14); “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).”
“16… It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound ‘decentralization’.”
“17. Here I have chosen to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality. In this context, and on the basis of the teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, I have decided, among other themes, to discuss at length the following questions:
a) the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach;
b) the temptations faced by pastoral workers;
c) the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes;
d) the homily and its preparation;
e) the inclusion of the poor in society;
f) peace and dialogue within society;
g) the spiritual motivations for mission.”
“18. I have dealt extensively with these topics, with a detail which some may find excessive. But I have done so, not with the intention of providing an exhaustive treatise but simply as a way of showing their important practical implications for the Church’s mission today. All of them help give shape to a definite style of evangelization which I ask you to adopt in every activity which you undertake. In this way, we can take up, amid our daily efforts, the biblical exhortation: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say: Rejoice” (Phil 4:4).”