by Adam Janke, Program Director

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Evangelii Gaudium is long, and it is helpful to briefly look over the structure of it before we delve in more deeply.

  1. (Chapter 1) The Church needs a missionary transformation. We need to again find ourselves as disciples and go out and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
  2. (Chapter 2) We need to first reform ourselves before announcing the Gospel. He repeats several times that our faith is not personal only, but rather lived in community. In the proclamation of our faith we cannot but see Christ in the poor.
  3. (Chapter 3) The entire people proclaims the Gospel and we find Christ in a multi-cultural context. We need to reform the homily and how we preach, and we need to focus on the proclamation or the Kerygma.
  4. (Chapter 4) Focus on common good and the poor as a consequence of the kerygma.
  5. (Chapter 5) Going out and helping others have a personal encounter with the saving love of Jesus. He wants to see spirit filled, joyful missionaries.

In a certain way we need to warn against using sound bites from Evangelii Gaudium as a dagger to promote a particular ideology instead of learning from the whole of the document. We don’t want to lose the overall message in a microscopic examination of the text. Rather than using the document to divide the church along ideological lines, the exhortation is meant to challenge us to find common ground and unity in the Church. He is challenging us to reform and change where both John Paul II & Benedict XVI saw a division between social justice and prolife Catholics.

Making the poor feel welcome, he says, represents “the greatest and most effective presentation of the good news of the kingdom.” Reporter John Allen Jr. reminds us that “At the same time, and despite urging a greater commitment to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, Francis is also utterly explicit that evangelization also means bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ.” Francis says “What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?”

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