Nov 26, 2013 / 04:02 am
In his first apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis urged the Christian faithful to begin “a new chapter of evangelization,” marked by the joy that is “constantly born anew” with Christ.
“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.”
The apostolic exhortation, also known as “Evangelii Gaudium,” follows the 2012 bishops’ synod on the new evangelization, which was held as part of the Year of Faith. Released Nov. 26, the papal document stressed the need for Christian joy.
“There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter,” the Pope said. Despite different ways of expressing joy and the difficulties of experiencing joy in suffering, he said, we must all allow joy to be part of our lives.
At the core of preaching is “the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ,” the Holy Father explained. Christians should appear not as someone seeming to solely impose new obligations, but as those “who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.”
Examining challenges to evangelization including relativism and secularization, Pope Francis observed a “profound cultural crisis” in marriage and the family, which is the “fundamental cell of society.”
The Pontiff rejected “an economy of exclusion and inequality,” which marginalizes people and treats them as disposable. Money has become an idol in the modern culture of indifference, he said, stressing the need for human-centered ethics in the financial system.
Furthermore, the Pope encouraged pastoral workers to see their faith as tied integrally to their identity, and to embrace a missionary spirituality without selfishness, sloth or pessimism. He discouraged worldliness as well as warring among different groups within the Church.
He recognized the important role of the laity in the Church, particularly noting the unique gifts of women, while affirming the male priesthood.
Turning to the call of every Christian to evangelize, Pope Francis acknowledged the necessity of explicitly proclaiming Christ as Lord. …