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All Catholics must become evangelisers, says Francis in major new document

By on Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pope Francis's document 'take everything from the synod on new evangelisation and puts it in a wider framework' (PA)

Pope Francis's document 'take everything from the synod on new evangelisation and puts it in a wider framework' (PA)

Pope Francis has issued his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), following the synod of bishops on the new evangelisation in October 2012.

In the document, which Francis handed out to a number of people in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pontiff called on all baptised Catholics to be evangelisers.

“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus,” the Pope wrote, inviting Christians to “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Evangelisation must start with an emphasis on God’s saving love before proclaiming doctrines and follow the “way of beauty,” the Pope said. Patience and “respectful and compassionate listening” are also a key part of evangelisation, he added.

“The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions, but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability… our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow,” he wrote.

Pope Francis also explained a “profound connection between evangelisation and human advancement,” saying that the “Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God” and that religion cannot be “restricted to the private sphere,” but is concerned with society, since “all Christians … are called to show concern for the building of a better world.”

The 48,000-word document covers a wide range of issues including abortion, the role of the papacy in the 21st century and the question of women priests. On abortion he said that “it is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life,” while he said that the issue of women priests was “not open to discussion”.

Other topics Pope Francis has written about in the document includes the global economy, the plight of the poor and the relationship between science and religion. He also discussed ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, making specific reference to Islam.

“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,” the Pope said.

“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.”

In response to the document the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, archbishop Vincent Nichols said that the apostolic exhortation “is a challenge to everyone, without exception.”

“Pope Francis’ words are full of the joy of the Gospel, the exhortation’s very title. They are marked throughout by the immediacy of the Holy Father’s character and by the profound compassion which shines through all his actions,” he said.

“It presents a vision for the pattern of life of the Church present throughout the world, for parish life, for the work of the preacher, for the catechist, for the bishop, for the business person and the politician and for the ministry of the Pope himself. It contains a radical look at the crisis of poverty in our world and at the role of economics. It offers a new light on the Church’s social teaching and calls for dialogue between faith, reason and science, with our fellow Christians, with the Jewish community, with other religions and with society, especially in the context of religious freedom.

“Indeed a spirit of freedom permeates this text as does the constant call for everyone to enter into the mercy of God and to offer that same mercy and compassion to others without reserve.”

Pope Francis has already published an encyclical, traditionally considered the most authoritative form of papal writing. But in the opening paragraphs of Lumen Fidei, released in July, he explained that the text was essentially the work of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to whose words Pope Francis had merely “added a few contributions” of his own. By contrast, Pope Francis has made clear that Evangelii Gaudium is very much his own work.

Apostolic exhortations are often based on deliberations of synods of bishops, and although this one takes into account the October 2012 synod on the new evangelisation, last June, Pope Francis informed the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops, which is normally responsible for helping draft post-synodal apostolic exhortations, he would not be working from their draft.

Instead, the Pope said, he planned to write an “exhortation on evangelisation in general and refer to the synod”, in order to “take everything from the synod but put it in a wider framework”.

For the full text of Evangelii Gaudium go here.

For key quotes from the Pope’s document, go here.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    I hope and pray that Pope Francis BE HIMSELF and not a copy of any one else and thus let him BE GOD’S ORIGINAL in everything and especially so in his APOSTOLIC ACTION of proclamation of GOD’S WORD.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    “For once ALL have to understand the IMPORTANCE of proclaiming UNDER
    BURDEN from whence FIRE comes upon everyone WHO applauds from behind all
    that IS. UNTIL every single proven EVIDENCE of proclaiming what always
    will be PROCLAIMED for what not?”

    Where is the HEAD, where is the TAIL?

  • Bishop James

    Are you suggesting that Pope Francis is NOT being himself?

  • Bishop James

    I welcome Pope Francis’ comments on showing respect to all including muslims but, I doubt very much this will be reciprocated (in case this was part of his motive).

    In much the same way that various countries (including Britain) have induction programmes for immigrants, I believe is should be our privilege to ‘introduce’ our predominant religion to those landing upon our shores. They may not wish to chose it but at least they should be familiar with what we believe and why.

  • Dave

    If and when the predominant religious affiliation in the UK becomes Islam or secular humanism, should they then be the one’s to induct us immigrants?

  • Benedict Carter

    What is it with you Indians AND the USE of CAPitAL LETTerS?

    AND what are YOU both on ABOUT?

  • Paul

    Bishop James, please can you tell me why my three year old son is learning about Islam in his Catholic Nursery, which is part of the so called “Coma and see program”? He cannot even wipe his bottom properly and yet the faithful think its ok to indoctrinate him with tolerance towards Islam. Why cant you see what is being allowed in Catholic schools is not only confusing to children but offensive to God. My daughter has had to be corrected by me many times on what our Catholic faith means because of the confusion being doctrinated to her. I shouldnt be doing this. You ask us to make a baptismal promise to reject satan and all his works, yet you allow that which opposes christ into children’s minds. If the faith was taught properly in the first place we wouldnt need to be taught what tolerance is, because this is what Jesus showed us in love. I am completely tolerant towards others beliefs, but i will not stand by while their souls are being ripped away from God and cast into hell. Being a GOOD and faithful christian means yes we should be evangelists, but not NICE as I am first a man for Christ not for men. Please your Grace ask your fellow bishops if they are getting this right, because I’m not alone with this. Many parents feel the same. And to be honest most people dont even know what the hadith or the bukhari are. If they had read them I’m sure they would feel differently. There are many references that are controversial for muslims too. Have you read them your Grace?

  • Guest

    –Isn’t “Come and See” a Catholic program? Bishop James is an Anglican bishop, I believe.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Thanks for inviting him. You DID well. May God bless him and all his dear ones.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Going with expectation to get a reciprocation is bound to fail and end up in hopelessness. As true Christians we must act unilaterally in tune with the mind of the Lord and his teachings.

    “I believe is should be our privilege to ‘introduce’………….”

    But whether they will take this ‘introduction’ as a privilege or as a problem is another thing. Only true seekers will be open minded and welcoming…People are migrating to to grow rich, to conquer and to have a better life in terms of this world. And where is better chance for such migrant than in the dying West?

    If people of other religions meet with Apostolic phenomenon among us as seen and experienced in the Divine, Muringoor, Kerala many will come over. The Credit goes to the Divine Fathers of the Vincentian Congreation. Here people of all religions, even Muslims, come and experience SALVATION in Jesus the Lord. But this phenomenon is very rarely seen in big Christian Churches elsewhere; many scorn at it as ‘charismatic’. What is Apostolic is rejected as ‘charismatic’ : The WISDOM of the learned and the clever. Most of the Bishops themselves are not Apostles in practice. Repenting and believing and thus entering the Kingdom of God is the first step unlike the Pharisees and Co. Luke 7: 29ff., Mk.11: 27ff., Mt.3: 7ff, +, +, +.

    When the Divine started all the Bishops were against the Fathers. But when they saw that they could not control the big enthusiastic crowds from all religions, gradually some change came over them.

  • Jcar

    Wow! Asking Islamic countries to show the same respect to Catholics as they are shown in other countries that have welcomed them. It is obvious that this man fears only God. Politicians have something to learn in these words. Let’s see how long it takes for them to start spinning them around.

  • Mariella We

    And NOT one single mention of Christians facing ongoing genocide, massacres, forced conversions during this biggest persecution of Christians in the Middle East since the Roman Empire. The danger of appeasement should have been learned in the last century. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

  • Bishop James

    Dear Paul

    Firstly my apologies for such a delay in my response.

    Secondly I am deeply sympathetic with your comments on this matter but (as a guest commentator has pointed-out) I am not actually Catholic although I retain close fellowship with my Catholic brethren in the Episcopacy.

    I agree that clear scripturally-based teaching should be the foundation of our children’s religious education and (especially during their formative years) that this should remain unclouded by the ‘intrusion’ of other religious beliefs (if the child is being raised at the parent’s request as a Catholic or Anglican or other denomination for example).

    However, in their senior years I do advocate broader ‘religious studies’ which are not part of any faith-forming religious curriculum but which educate our children on the diversity and broad practices of the world’s major religions. In fact, the rise of militant Islam (for example and in my view) underscores the need for sober awareness of the contrasts between many of the world’s religions.

    In the meantime please accept my prayers for your son, that God be with him and guide him in all truth constantly.