Evangelii gaudium: the first apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis

Pope Francis in Brazil
The Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is the second official document of Pope Francis, after the encyclical Lumen Fidei.
However, while the latter included largely the work already prepared by the pope, now emeritus , Benedict XVI, the current Gaudium Evangelii is the result of the personal work of the Pope himself.
Pope Francis aims at a more missionary church; thus less priests in the curia and more in the streets and an approach to the world that is marked by dialogue and discussion, not only about public speaking with no response from the other side. The Pope has had this challenging manifesto in his mind for some time that concerns the pastoral aspect of his vision of the Church. This includes wide-ranging reforms to revitalize the hierarchy, pushing towards a more collective attitude and defending the poor, but still not yielding to traditional compromises on issues such as the ordination of women , abortion or euthanasia.
“The Pope worked on this primarily in August, after returning from the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro – says Father Lombardi – the text was written by Francis in Spanish, his native language, and then he had it translated into six other languages: Italian , English, French , German, Portuguese and Polish”.

”The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the lifetime of those who met with Jesus. Those who let themselves be saved by Him are freed from sin, from sorrow, inner emptiness, isolation”. This is the beginning of the apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’, with which Pope Francis develops the theme of proclaiming the Gospel in our actual world and collecting, among other things, the contribution of the Synod, which was done in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October 2012 on the theme ‘the new evangelization for the transmission of the faith’.
In this exhortation, Pope Francis directly explains, ” I wish to address myself to the faithful Christians, inviting them to a new stage marked by evangelizing this joy and indicating ways for the Church’s progress in the coming years.” A path marked with simple words but seeking to reach the greatest number of people also far from the Church optics.
Pope Francis also denounces the current economic system. Money corrupts, makes us slaves and instruments to serve are turned into tools to govern. This plan kills because the survival of the fittest prevails. The current culture of discarding created something new: “the excluded are not exploited but discarded, they become waste, or even worse , leftovers’.
According to the Pope, we live in “a new invisible tyranny, sometimes a virtual one”, in a “deified market”, where financial speculation, branched corruption and selfish tax evasion reign. His Holiness is convinced that social inequality generates a violence that won’t be solved with arms and never will. “The arms race only tries to deceive those who are demanding greater security, as if today we did not know that weapons and violent repression , instead of giving solutions , create new and worse conflicts. Some simply take pleasure in blaming the poor and the poor countries of their ills , with undue generalizations , and expect to find the solution in an ‘education’ that calms them and turns them into harmless and tamed beings”.
The Pope also urges people not to turn towards ” sterile pessimism ” and to look for signs of hope by implementing a so-called revolution of tenderness . It should shy away from the spiritual welfare that refuses fraternal committments so that “the spiritual worldliness “, that is to look in place of the Lord’s glory , the glory of man, would win.
Pope Francis also speaks about those who feel superior to others because “they are unshakably loyal to a certain style of their Catholic past”, but instead of evangelizing and bringing the Gospel to those who really need help, they classify people regarding their ‘liturgical loyalty’. “This is a terrible corruption with the appearance of good”.
God delivers us from a worldly Church under the spiritual or pastoral drapery . “We must realize that charity is the principle not only of micro -relationships with friends, family, small group, but also of macro -relationships in the social , economic and political fields”.
Erika Sciarra

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