Author: Pope Francis Originally published: November 24, 2013
Evangelii gaudium is an important apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on “the church’s primary mission of evangelization in the modern world.”
Pope Francis opens the document like this:
“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelisation marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (EG1)
What is this new chapter?
“We need to move from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry. “ (EG15)
“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation” (EG27).
The term “missionary disciple” is used throughout the document. The two terms are used to hold in tension the need both for a relationship with our Lord and the need to go to the outskirts to preach the Gospel.
One thing is very clear. Every Baptised member of the Catholic faith is called to evangelize and is called to be a missionary disciple.“ In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization” (EG120).
“What I would like to propose is something much more in the line of an evangelical discernment. It is the approach of a missionary disciple, an approach ‘nourished by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit’” (EG51). “The Church is herself a missionary disciple” (EG40).
Pope Francis is calling for our Church to thrive by choosing the missionary option in everything that we do. How do we do this? That’s what the rest of the document is all about.