In November, 2013, Francis issued his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. It outlined his vision for a Church whose “doors should always be open,” and challenged economic injustice, reported Vatican Radio.
The 224-page document speaks on numerous themes, including evangelisation, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church.
The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his Pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterises every public appearance he has made so far.
The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges us to do exactly the same. To “recover the original freshness of the Gospel,” as he puts it, through a thorough renewal of the Church’s structures and vision. Including what he calls “a conversion of the papacy” to make it better able to serve the mission of evangelisation in the modern world.
The Church, he says, should not be afraid to re-examine “customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel” even if they have deep historical roots.
In strikingly direct and personal language, the Pope appeals to all Christians to bring about a “revolution of tenderness” by opening their hearts each day to God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.
The great danger in today’s consumer society, he says, is “the desolation and anguish” that comes from a “covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.” Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests , he warns, “there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”
As we open our hearts, the Pope goes on, so the doors of our churches must always be open and the sacraments available to all. The Eucharist, he says pointedly, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
And he repeats his ideal of a Church that is “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets” rather than a Church that is caught up in a slavish preoccupation with liturgy and doctrine, procedure, and prestige.
“God save us,” he exclaims, “from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” Urging a greater role for the laity, the Pope warns of “excessive clericalism” and calls for “a more incisive female presence in the Church,” especially “where important decisions are made.”
Looking beyond the Church, Pope Francis denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root,” based on a tyranny of the marketplace, in which financial speculation, widespread corruption and tax evasion reign supreme.
Read full article: Pope issues first Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium (Vatican Radio)
To read the full Apostolic Exhortation: CLICK HERE.
Five things you need to know about Evangelii Gaudium and the future of the Church (The Catholic Herald)
George Weigel: Pope Francis the Revolutionary (The Wall Street Journal)
John L. Allen Jr: 'Evangelii Gaudium' amounts to Francis' 'I Have a Dream' speech (NCR)
Fr Frank Brennan SJ: Pope Francis throws the doors of the Church wide open (Ucanews)
Pope Francis calls for decentralised Vatican in reform document (The Australian)
Cardinal Dolan: The Pope's Case for Virtuous Capitalism (The Wall Street Journal)
Lumen Fidei: an overview of Pope Francis’s first encyclical (The Catholic Herald)
Pope to G8: Money, politics and economics must serve, not rule (Vatican Radio)