During his electrifying pontificate Francis has shown what it means to be an evangeliser

On Sunday, Pope Francis gave out copies of a hefty text to a procession of people that included a bishop, a priest, a seminarian, an artist, a journalist, a blind man and members of a family. What did all these people, from countries as diverse as Japan, Tanzania and Australia have in common?

They were all Catholics, certainly, by virtue of their baptism. But by virtue of their baptism they were also all called to be evangelisers. That, in a nutshell, is the message of Evangelii Gaudium , the major new document that Francis handed out in St Peter’s Square.

The apostolic exhortation, whose English title is “The Joy of the Gospel”, is the first teaching document in which we truly hear Pope Francis’s voice. Yes, he released an encyclical, Lumen Fidei , in July, but that was mainly the work of Benedict XVI. This new text is, as Catholic journalist Francis X Rocca puts it, “his real debut as papal author”.