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Evangelii Gaudium

Pope Francis's "Apostolic Exhortation" on Evangelization has been released. It is a long, rich, and personal document. Here is a thought for the day:

265. Jesus’ whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily acts of generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, is precious and reveals the mystery of his divine life. Whenever we encounter this anew, we become convinced that it is exactly what others need, even though they may not recognize it: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm for mission because we forget that the Gospel responds to our deepest needs, since we were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters. If we succeed in expressing adequately and with beauty the essential content of the Gospel, surely this message will speak to the deepest yearnings of people’s hearts. ... Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.

266. But this conviction has to be sustained by our own constantly renewed experience of savoring Christ’s friendship and his message. It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to. It is not the same thing to try to build the world with his Gospel as to try to do so by our own lights. We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything. This is why we evangelize. A true missionary, who never ceases to be a disciple, knows that Jesus walks with him, speaks to him, breathes with him, works with him. He senses Jesus alive with him in the midst of the missionary enterprise. Unless we see him present at the heart of our missionary commitment, our enthusiasm soon wanes and we are no longer sure of what it is that we are handing on; we lack vigour and passion. A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody.

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Well, I've only read Part V of Chapter One, but it's beautiful.  

I will read the rest, bit by bit.  

I have a feeling there's something to offend/encourage everyone, including those who have decided the pope is a bumpkin and those who find the whole notion of evangelization intrusive and obsolete.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?

This is what makes this pope great. He is specific to the problem. Not bathing in luxury saying it is ok as long as one is not attached. He lives it. Even atheists acknowledge that concern for the poor is at the heart of the gospel. While he rightly criticizes the preoccupation with wealth, he first pays attention to reforming the clergy first. But how will they build quarter of a billion dollar cathedrals if they stop  courting the rich?

1. 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"

 Right off the bat Francis tells of the Pearl of great price. This is evangelization. To let people know that drugs, false gurus, greed are false gods. No triumphalism here but the joy and sharing of the gospel.

At first glance, his writing style is eminently readable to someone other than an academic and/or a theologian ... except for: "self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism" .

That is a very good first step.

I suspect this section will be quote quite a bit:

94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.

The other is the  of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.

"self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism"

My favorite Butthead Surfers album.

Here is a part I love:

Unity prevails over conflict

226. Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced. But if we remain trapped in conflict, we lose our perspective, our horizons shrink and reality itself begins to fall apart. In the midst of conflict, we lose our sense of the profound unity of reality.

227. When conflict arises, some people simply look at it and go their way as if nothing happened; they wash their hands of it and get on with their lives. Others embrace it in such a way that they become its prisoners; they lose their bearings, project onto institutions their own confusion and dissatisfaction and thus make unity impossible. But there is also a third way, and it is the best way to deal with conflict. It is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process. “Blessed are the peacemakers!” ...

Realities are more important than ideas

231. There also exists a constant tension between ideas and realities. Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out. There has to be continuous dialogue between the two, lest ideas become detached from realities. ...

232.  ... What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason. ...

233. Realities are greater than ideas. This principle has to do with incarnation of the word and its being put into practice: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God” (1 Jn 4:2). The principle of reality, of a word already made flesh and constantly striving to take flesh anew, is essential to evangelization...

And this is funny:

The whole is greater than the part

236. Here our model is not the sphere, which is no greater than its parts, where every point is equidistant from the centre, and there are no differences between them. Instead, it is the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness.

Here's part I don't love ...

The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion ...  (104)

More of Francis's tough love:

78. Today we are seeing in many pastoral workers, including consecrated men and women, an inordinate concern for their personal freedom and relaxation, which leads them to see their work as a mere appendage to their life, as if it were not part of their very identity. At the same time, the spiritual life comes to be identified with a few religious exercises which can offer a certain comfort but which do not encourage encounter with others, engagement with the world or a passion for evangelization. As a result, one can observe in many agents of evangelization, even though they pray, a heightened individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour. These are three evils which fuel one another.

 

79. At times our media culture and some intellectual circles convey a marked scepticism with regard to the Church’s message, along with a certain cynicism. As a consequence, many pastoral workers, although they pray, develop a sort of inferiority complex which leads them to relativize or conceal their Christian identity and convictions. This produces a vicious circle. They end up being unhappy with who they are and what they do; they do not identify with their mission of evangelization and this weakens their commitment. They end up stifling the joy of mission with a kind of obsession about being like everyone else and possessing what everyone else possesses. Their work of evangelization thus becomes forced, and they devote little energy and very limited time to it.

I've just begun to read the exhortation.

There is definitely a strong Jesuit influence on Pope Francis - obviously. The emphasis on find God in the daily, joy and consolation, and mission to the "peripheries" are, I believe, strong in Ignatius' spirituality.

But what I really find exciting is how Pope Francis often cites the document of the meeting in Aparecida of Latin American and Caribbean bishops. Of course, he was the major editor of the final document but I don't know if there are any other major formal statements of Popes that quote regional bishops' conferences.

I think that one of the limitations of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was its failure to cite very little outside of Papal and Conciliar documents and the church fathers.

I'm looking forward to carefully finishing the document sometime later this week.

This encyclical is too long, but searching for "woman" and "women" in the text reveals that Francis frequently talks about "men and women". When he quotes a text that just says "man", he keeps it as is, but when he uses his own words, he says "men and women", see paragraph 181 for example. That's good.

Here are all the places in the encyclical that contain the word "woman" or "women", other than "men and women". So: there is the Samaritan woman (72,120), the sinful woman anointing his feet (269), Mary (lots of mentions), and, for references of contemporary women, women protecting their families or contemplating abortion (212-214), and two special paragraphs (103-104) on the "feminine genius" and the "reservation of the priesthood to males".

 

103. The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace”[72] and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.

104. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness”.[73] The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. In the Church, functions “do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others”.[74] Indeed, a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops. Even when the function of ministerial priesthood is considered “hierarchical”, it must be remembered that “it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members”.[75] Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.

212. Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights. Even so, we constantly witness among them impressive examples of daily heroism in defending and protecting their vulnerable families.

213. Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. ...

214. Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?

 

It's nice that Francis seems to be concerned about women, but the fact that he makes ontological distinctions between men and women, that as a man he feels competent to both define women and to tell them their place, is depressing.  When he says that other positions of decision-making and power aside from the priesthood will be found in the church for women, he misses the point completely. Women being priests is not about decision-making or about power, it is about accepting that there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. The church's bid to evangelize non-Catholics is put into sad perspective by the fact that it will not share the reality of the good news with half of its own members.

Quite different is the emphasis of Francis of the priest being a servant, not set apart and not to dominate. Usually, papal language exalts the priest, the apartness etc. But Francis clearly states the Mary is more important. But this time it is not patronizing since the sacralization of the priesthood is not emphasized. You can bet that the Curial helpers put the phrase in that the male priesthood is not up for discussion. (ditto for neo-Pelagian). But Francis uses the opportunity to stress service. This is definitely not an encyclical with phony, clerical, hierarchichal overtones. 

Evangelli Gaudium is an Apostolic Exhortation.

 

I see Charles. Distinguish it for me. Here is some help. http://www.ewtn.com/holysee/pontiff/categories.asp

What Crystal said.  In spades.

Crystal-

 

Maybe as George Weigel did with Benedict's encyclical by using a gold pen for the parts he agreed with and a red for those he didn't, you could do likewise for us?  Feel free to adopt the colors of your choice!

 

AA

I'm sure there's lots of worthy stuff in what Francis wrote - all the other quotations I've seen have sounded good to me.  The only part I've disagreed with (that I've read) is the part (103 and 104) where he talks about "feminine genius" and women's inability to be priests.

Crystal, I'm with you. There is a lot that Francis says that I like. But I am getting really tired of being patted on the head in this patronizing way with statements such as The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society (Gee, thanks, guys). The condescension that underlies the repeated statements about Mary being more important than bishops (because she is a mother, one presumes, the only thing that counts with the popes, including this one), and the repetitive comments about "feminine genius" are both getting more than just a bit tiresome.

Until this pope and any successors recognize the truth in your observation - he misses the point completely. Women being priests is not about decision-making or about power, it is about accepting that there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus - the church in the west will continue to bleed out the young women, who then, of course, will not be the kind of mother the men of the church want - they won't be mothers who raise their kids in the Catholic church.  Until all members of the church are treated equally as far as the sacraments go, women will continue to leave and take their families and future families with them.  Fewer and fewer women are willing to continue to be second-class citizens in the church and even fewer (who put up with it) are willing to raise their children in a church that treats their daughters as second-class to their sons.

I noticed that the money quote from Galatians is missing something in section 113:

113. The salvation which God has wrought, and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone.[82] God has found a way to unite himself to every human being in every age. He has chosen to call them together as a people and not as isolated individuals.[83] No one is saved by himself or herself, individually, or by his or her own efforts. God attracts us by taking into account the complex interweaving of personal relationships entailed in the life of a human community. This people which God has chosen and called is the Church. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group. He said: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Saint Paul tells us in the people of God, in the Church, “there is neither Jew or Greek... for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people!

Watch those ellipses: “Saint Paul tells us in the people of God, in the Church, ‘there is neither Jew or Greek... for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal 3:28). N. B. What was left out? It wouldn’t have done to leave it in, would it. . . ?

Bill,

What I loved about the beginning was that it views the Gospel as something someone would want rather than as just something someone is supposed to have. This isn't unique, but it's always nice.

Like Anne and Crystal, there is very much that I like in what Pope Francis writes. Yet, I, too, find his words on women to be something less than breathtaking, and I'm not talking about women's ordination. I do take a little encouragement that in this document he outlines several traits he identifies as feminine, while noting that these traits TEND to be found more in women than men. The realization that such traits are not exclusively the domain of one or the other is progress, albeit small.  

However, I still don't know how to take the statement that Mary is more important than bishops.  Is this meant to be some comfort to  the rest of us women, none of whom were born without sin or bore the son of God and so bear little resemblance to the ways in which this woman is important?  I really don't get it and yet the Pope must think it's important because he's repeated it several times. 

I can only hope the other 264-plus paragraphs are as good as 265 and 266.   These paragraphs highlight that a true evangelist has an equanimity of soul, something you don’t often find in people.    

But I wonder if the left will be taken back by these words:

A person who is not convinced, …certain…will convince nobody.

Doesn’t that smack of the “triumphalism” they detest in conservatives?

Great observation, Susan. I didn't get to that passage before you pointed it out. I would not put that necessarily on Francis. People talk about Scalafari putting in what he thought the pope would think. The Curia, more than anybody, places in communications what they believe the pope should say. If Francis is responsible it would truly be disturbing. The whole sentence: "There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[a] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Never underestimate the deviousness of the Curia!

Mark, 

Apples and Oranges. All should be convinced. It is when the conviction is not followed by practice that the problem occurs.

Bill--

I think what you're describing is hypocrisy, not "triumphalism."

Bill Mazzella talks about Francis’s emphasis on, in Bill’s words, “the priest being a servant, not set apart and not to dominate.”  I recently received a link to a post which, if accurate, suggests that at least in some quarters,  there’s  a long way to go before that goal is achieved.   Here’s the link:  http://datinggod.org/2013/11/21/reflections-of-a-seminary-educator-guest-post/

Evangelii Gaudium contains many references to the writings of Pope Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. 

You use EWTN?

Look at the list of references to see what shapes his thoughts. I am struck, indeed, by the numerous references to episcopal conferences. I guess he really takes collegiality seriously! Not a single quote of a woman, except for Therese of Lisieux. I guess... (I'll let the reader complete that thought).

Fewer Fathers of the church than Benedict, I think. As to recent popes, a quick computer count within the list of references (approximate: I didn't check and didn't count the Ibid's) gives

John XXIII: 1; Paul VI: 13; John Paul II: 41; Benedict XVI: 17;

Second Vatican (Council): 18; Congregation for the doctrine of the faith: 4; Catechism: 2.

I notice that he has not quite done the final work of cleaning up the blibliography - there are a couple of references without author (see [182] for example), and the way in which references are cited is not entirely consistent. 

Claire:

Re: bibliography. I think that is the task of the papal theologian(s) which, of course, could include women. Put another way, I think the response to citation issues is "we have people for that".

My sense is that popes lay out their thinking in broad strokes and obviously their formative experiences inform that. As has been mentioned, this pope is Ignatian through and through, Benedict had obvious monastic proclivities, and JP II had the phenomenologists although he seemed to abandon them. 

As Bill mentions, the filling in of the details is likely done by Curialists quick to spot areas where he may be moving too rapidly and shore that up.

But in the main, his vision radiates through as the quotes shown illustrate.

 

Oh, If you're right, and Bill is right, then the Curialists add touches of their own color here and there, removing some things he may have written in (for example, what Susan Gannon found), or adding in things that the pope didn't write but that they think will help people understand better, things that they decide are important for him and the work he carries out ? For example, maybe he wrote

The reservation of the priesthood to males can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.

and they "clarified" it by inserting

The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.

The formulaic, brainless style of the expression "is not a question open to discussion" suggests that that might be the case. It looks as though the writer is on automatic. We see enough of pope Francis' style that we can see that it's not the way he writes. He doesn't borrow words of others in a mechanical way.

Then in a way it's   kind of like the Scalfari interview, isn't it?

 

It is reminiscent of Cardinal Madariaga's speech in Maynooth at the conference preparatory to the Dublin Eucharistic Conference (abridged translation in The Japan Mission Journal), itself inspired by the Aparecida document. 

Very interesting that Francis explicitly says that the downgrading of episcopal conferences was a mistake -- this is a sharp criticism of his predecessor.

Maradiaga, I mean.

 

Francis weaves many of his most memorable oral remarks into the document (smelling of the sheep, etc.), thus saving them from ephemerality. Scripta manent. 

 

Nice to see  him quoting Populorum progressio, Evangelii nuntiandi, Octagesima adveniens so prominently.

I also note that, as usual, some nuances are lost in translation. For example

(103) I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests

is, in the French version

(103) Je vois avec joie combien de nombreuses femmes partagent des responsabilités pastorales avec les prêtres

which could perhaps be translated as something like: "I am delighted to see how numerous are the women who share pastoral responsibilities with priests". I assume the original version is the Spanish:

(103) Reconozco con gusto cómo muchas mujeres comparten responsabilidades pastorales junto con los sacerdotes

So I suppose that, like most of what pope Francis produces, we need to look at the document in its globality and take in its general flavor without getting hung up on any single detail.

 

 

Evangelii gaudium echoes Gaudium et spes and Evangelii nuntiandi.

Claire --

The ease with which words can be misinterpreted might have been the reason why Plato himself (who knew a great deal about how language works)  refused to write down his own opinions.  His dialogues do not claim to be Plato's own thoughts -- he puts all those varied and conflicting ideas in the mouth of Socrates.  Plato  just didn't trust the writen word process.  (And neither did Socrates!)  But spoken language does gives us a few more cues about intended meanings.  

Ambiguity, ambiguity.

Good morning for those just joining us. Thank you to those commenting on the text, even if some of the comments are rather hypothetical.

I note that I deleted two comments that were "ad hominem" remarks, and will continue to do so. Evangelii Gaudium deserves better. So please make your case ad documentum sed non ad hominem.

Happy pre-thanksgiving; and safe travels.

Part of the concluding prayer by Pope Francis – lovely and rich; if my aging mind allows it, I will try to memorize it:

 

Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman.

Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelisation,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.

Amen. Alleluia!

As an adult convert, I was grateful for my catechism instruction, which emphasized the simple and beautiful truths (love God and neighbor) and avoided rigid declaration of "disjointed doctrines." My friend who brought me into Catholicism in the first place continues to promote a brand of Catholicism which may remain forever beyond reach for me. All I can do is to go to mass, pray, try to follow the rules, and love God and try to love neighbor in heart and deeds and allow the Holy Spirit to fill in the blanks. 

 

I was so grateful to read the following words of Pope Francis (as quoted in another comment, above).  They were a caution to both me (first paragraph) and to my friend (2nd paragraph).

 

94. "This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.

 

"The other [are] those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity."

 

Now, I didn't understand the first part about Gnosticism, as all I knew was the 1st century form of it, which was downright weird. But I went and looked up what modern day Gnostics say about themselves.

 

"Gnostics believe in finding their own truth, and don’t believe in “hell,” “sin,” or that Jesus came to die for our sins -– but was a human messiah who served as a living example of how we should think and behave. Church members believe in an all-loving, all-merciful and benevolent God, in the power of prayer, and that we write a 'chart' for each life, to learn the life lessons we have chosen to learn through experience – to reach our own desired level of perfection for God, who loves us unconditionally and equally."4

 

Now that doesn't describe me exactly, but it is close enough in some respects to make me squirm a bit. I don't think that the second part  of the Francis quote describes my friend exactly, but I think it's close enough that it should make her squirm, as well.

 

 This particular essay by Francis reads like a modern day Pauline epistle, more than a traditional encyclical.  I'm thinking of it as "Francis's 1st Letter to the World"

 

Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

What do people make of this section?

As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom”.[59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

The reference is to the USCCB document on ministry to homosexuals, so it is very clear which objective moral norm/"this teaching" is being discussed, or at least that is how I take it.  I would argue that it is critical thinking and a more mature conscience (as opposed to "just because they say so") that is leading so many to question "this teaching".

Are there nuances lost in translation?

 

I have not yet read the entire document. What follows is just an initial imprression.

Pope Francis speaks with and calls for genuine humility in all of us. There is the humility to offer to others what our reflections and experiences have shaped our lives. There is the humility to acknowledge the need to listen to others, both Catholics and others. Therre is the humility to recognize that each of us is limited in many ways and that often enough someone else is better equipped to make decisions or take initiatives than we are. There is the humility to recognize that in no matter whatsoever is the word that I say the "complete word," the word that makes other words about the topic idle.

All of this is part of the humility to accept with joy the Gospel in its entirety, i.e., both Scripture and the Tradition by virtue of which we receive the Gospel, the Gospel that calls us to serve and to hear. It is the humility of the sinner we all are who is nonetheless always Christ's beloved.

I do look forward to reading the whole text.

Make no mistake about it. This is a major document by a Gospel pope. Not Ignatian. But Sermon on the Mount. It does echo other papal documents. But Francis's stamp is clear. The Gospel of Jesus is front and center. The pope might like Augustine. But he is revamping many fourth century errors by Augustine, Jerome and even Paulinus of Nola. Etc. This is a gospel of the poor. Not empire. Rich in spirit and against greed and material aspiration. 

As encyclicals go, on balance Evangelii Gaudium seems is a pretty good first step out of the blocks for our Jesuit pope.  It shows that in his rise up the clerical ladder, Jorge Bergoglio hasn't forgotten his cultural and pastoral roots and lessons he learned in the shadow of  Gustavo Gutierrez, Dom Helder Camarra, Pedro Arrupe, among others.  [At least, in comparison to what has gone before him the last four decades ... in the spirit of the season I suppose that it's long past time we let all that go ...]

Hovever, I am left with the same question that others on this blog stream have voiced in different ways:  What is holding back our Franciscan pope on charting a new course when it comes to the role of women in the church?

I understand that you don't rise to the rank of cardinal/archbishop of Buenos Aires, then get elected pope without the support of the most reactionary ideologues in the hierarchy [read Ratzinger].  It would be illogical to expect that Francesco would now in the first year of his papacy to expect him to easily turn his back on the very hierarchs who elected him in conclave last spring.

Yet, now that Francesco is both infallible and omnipotent in the extreme, I do expect him to demonstrate several more degrees of freedom from the stifiling anti-feminine ideology that is strangling the church.  Predictable paeans to the Virgin just wont cut it.  

If Francesco is to be successful in rousing the church from its downward course, he is going to need the enthusiastic support of women.  Face it, it is women who are the most faithful human mirrors of the creative power of the divine - especially in their own bodies.  

Francesco needs to summon all his courage and take a leap of faith worthy of his sainted namesake:  Call on the women of the world to remake the church's teachings and doctrines about women.  Listen to women tell him what they need from the church to be full partners in the "Joy of the Gospel."  

If Francesco leaves it to the celibate hierarchs, we will be left with nothing but dry, dry bones.

[Maybe what Imbelli encountered on this blog was truly odious and he needed to eliminate those "ad hominem" attacks.  Although, I would humbly suggest that in imitation of Papa Francesco in this season of hope and renewal, that especially our priestly brothers thicken-up their skins and sensibilities.  There is a lot of anger and humiliation at the hand of the shepherds out here among the sheep.  My sainted sixth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide, embellishing on the Gospel often said:  "I have come to bring you the Truth.  And the Truth will set you free.  But first, it will make you miserable."]

Jim Jenkins:

"now that Francesco is both infallible and omnipotent in the extreme"

 

No one believes that and it's a childish thing to write.

 Bill—

I pray you are right and have no reason really to think you are not, but do you think the left is prepared for the full implications of Francis’ push “against greed and material aspiration”?  I have my doubts.

It’s not just those in the episcopacy with a sense of entitlement who will be caught short by Francis.   If you asked someone from the far left whether he could support a policy change that would make the poor 10% better off and the rich 20% better off, I gather he would be unable to respond with an enthusiastic “YES.”   That reveals a most malignant form of greed and material aspiration.

Do you suppose that this document is a response to Nietzsche's comment in the section entitled "On priests" in Thus Spake Zarathustra: "Better songs would they have to sing, for me to learn to believe in their Redeemer, and his disciples would have to look more redeemed!"

What is so refreshing is that Francis talks about the joys of the Christian life even amidst the trials on earth. No prophet of doom. No blaming others for this and that. The joy is there for all and true riches are in Christ. The generous of heart live fully. "10. The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”.[4] When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others."

Claire commented (Nov. 26, 10:45 pm) that “some nuances are lost in translation.”  If she’s right in her assumption that the original version is the Spanish, the English translation of 103

“I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests” 

appears to be defective.  The Spanish (“Reconozco con gusto . . .”) adds that, besides simply (or “readily”) recognizing it, he’s happy about it.  I'd say a better translation would be “I’m glad to acknowledge that . . .” or “I acknowledge with pleasure that . . .”  or “I’m happy about the fact that . . .”

 The church's bid to evangelize non-Catholics is put into sad perspective by the fact that it will not share the reality of the good news with half of its own members.

Crystal, in the main I agree with you (although I can't get worked up about it), but I find this statement of yours an exageration. You don't need to be a priest in order to have a "share in the reality of the good news". 

 

Jim H.,

It's a bit more nuanced than the allegation that people's strongly stated moral statements are pure relativism, but I agree that it misses the core argument of those it is criticizing. While there are certainly libertines who believe that the individual has an absolute right to do anything that does not harm others, I suspect that the majority of supporters of the equal treatment for gays and lesbians are based on the belief that their relationships have access to many of the goods that form the basis of the Catholic Church's advocacy of marriage for men and women and that demanding celibacy from gays and lesbians is as harmful as eliminating the sacrament of marriage and demanding celibacy from everyone would be.

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.