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Evangelii Gaudium


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November 2013
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Pope Francis has just released his first Papal Exhortation, ‘Evangelii Gaudium.’  

An exhortation is a message sent to the people of the Church to communicate what the Pope wants of the Church without focusing on any particular doctrine in a theological-academic sense.  Think of it as the equivalent of a “state of the union” address done by United States Presidents.  

In ‘Evengelii Gaudium,” or the “Joy of the Gospel;” Pope Francis expounds more on his words which the media has often twisted and liberals have misinterpreted as a raising up of their torch. 
The Pontiff reminds us that we cannot worship money.  He speaks of the idolatry of money that seems to be more stronger today than in previous generations.  Pope Francis reminds the Church that the priesthood is only open to males and is not open to discussion.  However, he adds that women need to be a part of the Church and her work.  He reminds us about the evils of abortion, and how it is important to evangelize not only within the Church’s walls, but on the streets.  Pope Francis reminds the Church that Science is important, but that it cannot be an end in itself – faith and reason work together.    
Here are some key quotes:

On evangelisation…
“I am aware that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, I want to emphasise that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission’…
“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.
“The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with him. As John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion’…


On parishes…
“The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if it proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be ‘the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters’. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed cluster made up of a chosen few.
“The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelisers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.
“Other Church institutions, basic communities and small communities, movements, and forms of association are a source of enrichment for the Church, raised up by the Spirit for evangelizing different areas and sectors. Frequently they bring a new evangelizing fervour and a new capacity for dialogue with the world whereby the Church is renewed. But it will prove beneficial for them not to lose contact with the rich reality of the local parish and to participate readily in the overall pastoral activity of the particular Church.[29] This kind of integration will prevent them from concentrating only on part of the Gospel or the Church, or becoming nomads without roots.”

On secularisation…

“The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change.
“As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, ‘there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom’. We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.
“Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.”


On the family…
“The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born ‘of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life’.”
On abortion…
“Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or ‘modernisations’. It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?


On women priests…
“Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness”.


On science and religion…
“Whereas positivism and ‘scientism’ ‘refuse to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences’, the Church proposes another path, which calls for a synthesis between the responsible use of methods proper to the empirical sciences and other areas of knowledge such as philosophy, theology, as well as faith itself, which elevates us to the mystery transcending nature and human intelligence. Faith is not fearful of reason; on the contrary, it seeks and trusts reason, since ‘the light of reason and the light of faith both come from God’ and cannot contradict each other. Evangelisation is attentive to scientific advances and wishes to shed on them the light of faith and the natural law so that they will remain respectful of the centrality and supreme value of the human person at every stage of life. All of society can be enriched thanks to this dialogue, which opens up new horizons for thought and expands the possibilities of reason. This too is a path of harmony and peace.”


On the poor…
“For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological, political or philosophical one. God shows the poor ‘his first mercy’. This divine preference has consequences for the faith life of all Christians, since we are called to have ‘this mind… which was in Jesus Christ’ (Phil 2:5). Inspired by this, the Church has made an option for the poor which is understood as a ‘special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness’. This option – as Benedict XVI has taught – ‘is implicit in our Christian faith in a God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his poverty’. This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor.
“They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”


On peace…
“Evangelisation also involves the path of dialogue. For the Church today, three areas of dialogue stand out where she needs to be present in order to promote full human development and to pursue the common good: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – including dialogue with cultures and the sciences – and dialogue with other believers who are not part of the Catholic Church. In each case, ‘the Church speaks from the light which faith offers’, contributing her two thousand year experience and keeping ever in mind the life and sufferings of human beings. This light transcends human reason, yet it can also prove meaningful and enriching to those who are not believers and it stimulates reason to broaden its perspectives. The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good.”


On the economy…
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that 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? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalised: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘disposable’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’.”


On ecumenical dialogue…
“Commitment to ecumenism responds to the prayer of the Lord Jesus that ‘they may all be one’ (Jn 17:21). The credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions and the Church could realise ‘the fullness of ‘catholicity’ proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her’. We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another. This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face… In this perspective, ecumenism can be seen as a contribution to the unity of the human family. At the Synod, the presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Rowan Williams, was a true gift from God and a precious Christian witness.”


On Islam…
“Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”.[198] The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need.
“In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” (cited from http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/11/26/key-quotes-from-evangelii-gaudium/)



  1. MissWendee says:

    Beautiful and perfect. I just love our Pope! 🙂

  2. Stephen Ind says:

    How is it that the Holy Father says that authentic Islam is opposed to every form of violence?

    • Sacerdotus says:

      Well Islam comes from the Arabic word for peace. Its principles are about peace and submission to God’s will. Unfortunately, some politicized the religion and present it as a terrorist organization seeking to dominate the world. This is why the Pope uses the word ‘authentic’ to distinguish between what the religion is supposed to be with what some try to make it today by hurting others.

      • Stephen Ind says:

        Does the Koran not instruct followers to kill the infidel? And did not its founder spread the faith with the sword?

      • Sacerdotus says:

        Yes, but we must read those texts with the understanding of how justice was carried out in his time. Similarly, the same charges are made of our Bible which commands to stone witches, adulterers etc. We must understand ancient texts by first understanding the cultures, values, writing styles of the people who wrote them.

      • Stephen Ind says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        You have made me think more deeply about interpreting the Koran.

        You have argued that I have not applied accepted techniques for understanding a text. I must accept that. But by application of these techniques could one not get a text to say very much what one wanted it to say? Very much as Protestants do?

        Any text requires an interpreter. God has given us the Holy Father to interpret the Bible. Who has authority to interpret the Koran?

        You have not answered the historical question as to the founder of Islam and the author of the Koran. Did he spread Islam with the sword and does it really matter if he did?

        You say that our Scriptures command the stoning of adulterers etc. but really that is not true. The complete version of Scripture does not allow for it. Though perhaps with techniques of interpretation they could be made to say that.

        I suppose the Jews no longer apply the clear commands of their Scriptures. On what basis they have brought about these changes I do not quite know.

        Outside of Christ and his Church I really cannot see any certainty. Should we find it so shocking if Islamics say that they should kill people of different beliefs while we kill millions of children in the womb?

        It seems to me that Christ truly is the light and outside of him there is only darkness.

        God bless you!

      • Sacerdotus says:

        Well this is exactly why we must understand the point of view of the authors so we won’t commit the same errors as Protestants who can find 100 different interpretations for one phrase. First we must conclude that neither the Koran or Bible were written for evil purposes. From there, we must study the text, the original words and how they were used at the time they were written. We then must study the history surrounding the text when it was written and how it applied to them and to future readers of the text. I’m not endorsing the Koran, but I will not attack it as an evil book because it was written by people in the past who did things differently than we do today. I only accept the Bible as the Word of God. Since I believe this, I trust that only Muslims who are learned have the ability and duty to properly interpret the Koran. Our Scripture does call for the stoning of several offenders; however, these laws are no longer applicable because we have the New Covenant in Christ. This is an example why we must understand texts properly. The reason why stoning is in the Bible is because that was the capital punishment at the time the text mentioning it was written. Similarly, ideas about killing infidels in the Koran must be understood in the historical context that the region where Islam grew from was unstable and war was a constant. Paranoia took hold and the foreigner was always suspect and the first to die. An educated Muslim will know this and understand that this message in the Koran is not applicable in 2013 and so on. Both the Bible and Koran reflect the human condition at the time they were written just like any other book, including literature like Shakespeare etc. However, the Bible is unique that it is the only set of books inspired by the one God.

      • Stephen Ind says:

        Thanks for your your thoughtful reply to my email.

        You have helped me to better see the role which learning and study of texts should play.

        Reading your reply has made me think of the following questions:

        Can learning lead one to the Truth through the Scriptures?

        Who inspired the Koran?

        Thank you for your thought and knowledge which you share.

        May God bless you.

      • Sacerdotus says:

        Yes. There are many who have joined the Church after reading the Bible. Ironically, many of these were Protestants. I don’t believe the Koran is inspired by God, but instead is really a splicing of the Bible itself mixed with cultural elements from the Middle East. I know this will offend some, but it is just my opinion based on what I’ve studied and read; not the mention from actually reading it and comparing it with other texts including the Bible.

      • Stephen Ind says:

        Once again thanks for your response. May God bless you!

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