“ Evangelii Gaudium” : pope Francis explains his programm, different from previous teaching
The Evangeli Gaudium by Pope Francis is an apostolic recommendation that ought to put together the indications of the episcopal synod of October 2012 on the new evangelisation. As a matter of fact, it was the occasion for the Roman bishop to present in a sufficiently organized way , although too lengthy (288 paragraphs), the most important indications of the progamme of his papacy. Hence its great importance. Much more important than the first encyclical letter, that as a matter of fact had been written by pope Ratzinger. It should be read with the necessary time. However, such texts should be more approachable to the “normal” believer. This one is hardly normal, even if written in plain style. They are in large part analysis, exhortations and proposals suggested in the last months in several occasions. The text begins in an unusual way, inviting to the joy of the Gospel, that has to be inside of any believer. This must allow a great creativity in the evangelisation work. Some of these words are very beautiful. Then the subject becomes the reform of the church.
The most interesting point is where Francis, bringing into question himself (and such an attitude should be of every believer), admits the necessity of reforming the papacy, as pope Woityla had announced (without making it into operation) and giving a new dimension to the role of the centre of the Church in favour of the episcopal conferences, local and not only national. These conferences should be able to carry concrete competences, and also a doctrinal authority, beyond the pastoral role, due to the necessity of a greater engagement in the enculturation. Accepting thus implicitly the limit of a monolytic doctrine. This passage of the recomandation shows a turning point that becomes sufficiently credible, at least in the intentions, for the concrete decisions that Pope Francis is on the way of taking.
The text then explicitly proposes a long list of situations of the Church to overcome. This repeats Francis basic ideas. A new way to propose the Gospel by the church structures; mercy must prevail on anathems, it is God who evangelize, the Christian is only a toil; Eucaresty and Baptism must induce to the Grace, not controllers; the Church must be open even if “accident prone”; the main message must prevail over the secondary aspects, those connected with the precepts; we must find out the “signs of the times”; even the basic communities and the small communities are important and essential for the Church, and so on and so forth. On the contrary there are too many laziness, too many times it is said “we had always done this way”, the confessional have not to be a torture; there are too many abits not linked with the Gospel; too many parishes had not renewed themselves sufficienty; there are prophets of doom; there are phenomenons of spiritual desertification; we must put a stop to the envies and to the internal fights of the ecclesial milieu.
In the second chapter are said several “no”, very esplicit, even if not new. They show a very clear direction: no, to an economy that excludes; no, to total autonomy of the markets, and to the financial speculation; no, to the new idolatry of money and to the injustice that generates violence; there is violence over the peoples of the South of the world, the weapons and violent repression, instead of creating solutions, generate new and worse conflicts, there is an arrogance of the mass media. Lastly, Francis thinks that for the believer it is strictly binding the commitment against the injustice and that “the option for the poor is a theological category”.
The most interesting point of the third chapter, about the “Announcement of the Gospel”, is a small treatise on the preaching. A really unusual theme, even if of great importance to the part of the church that refers to the Council, practically the only one willing to raise it. Francis starts from a situation that he feels is largely to be changed. The homily must be short and never boring. It must not be moralistic or brainwashable, must express God’s dialogue with his people, it is neither meditation nor catechesis. The homily must be prepared with extreme care on the texts, trying to understand the catching the central message, the preacher must know the situation of the people to whom he talks, and so on and so forth. This is the newest part of the exhortation and particularly effective. Interestings are the quotes, that amongst the many, from the Gospel, popes, Church fathers along the usual trend of these documents, there are also quotes from text coming from Congoles, Indian, Philippines, Brasilian bishops.
I have listed those that in my opinion seem to be the main issues of the document. There is also a repetition , rather expected, of the position on the abortion, and on the barring women from the ministries. In general, it is a text that moves away from the previous teaching of the Church. It will consolidate the great consent that Francis enjoys now in the believers basis, and, more generally, in the public opinion caring for the spirituality. The curial and fundamentalist right wing will probably organise an opposition. On the part of the Churh supporting the Council, there will be consent, even if always vigil and indipendent.
Rome, 27 november 2013 Vittorio Bellavite, spokeman of “Noi Siamo Chiesa”