Friday, November 29, 2013

Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium

Please note - this is an ongoing compilation of reactions to, and reflections on, Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium. This post will be updated with further content.

Full Text of Evangelii Gaudium


News Coverage

Commentary

On Economic Matters

Because while the exhortation contains much, much more -- progressives and conservatives alike will harp on this topic. The former believing themselves vindicated by the Pope's remarks, the latter finding cause to critique.
  • Morality and economics, Pope Francis, and Rush Limbaugh, by Matt C. Abbot. Renew America. Father John Trigilio Jr., Ph.D., Th.D., president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, responds to Rush Limbaugh's "scorching" reaction to Evangelii Gaudium ("pure Marxism coming from the mouth of the Pope").
  • Finances in Light of the Call for a Poor Church, by R. Jared Staudt. Crisis 11/29/13:
    The Gospel and the ministry of Pope Francis invite us to “create a prophetic, counter-cultural resistance to the self-centered hedonism of paganism,” a paganism that is beginning to dominate our culture more and more (§193). Evangelical poverty, putting our finances at the service of God and others, is a crucial way to withstand this paganism. Pope Francis issues this invitation to follow Christ: “God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us” (§12). This is another way of saying: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else will be added unto you.”
  • A key error in translation of Evangelii Gaudium [on Section 54 referencing "trickle-down theories"], by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture.com. 11/28/13. ("In passing let me ask rhetorically why the translation errors always seem to tilt in the same ideological direction. Almost makes you think they aren’t really "errors.'")
  • The Joy of the Gospel, by Daniel Nichols. (Caelum Et Terra) 11/27/13:
    I just read Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation. Wow, Just wow. There is absolutely no room for the neocons or libertarians to spin this letter. None. While papal teaching has always been inherently radical – the principle of solidarity, of the primacy of labor over capital, of the preferential option for the poor, etc etc – it often has been cloaked in scholarly prose, in deliberately moderate tones, and even sometimes in ambiguity. Not Francis. Plain-spoken, direct, the pope of the poor and of the people. There is no way that this can be spun. ... Sorry if I seem to be gloating; this feels like victory after a long (since ’79, when I returned to the Catholic Church) war.
  • Pope Francis hates trickle-down economics, but he isn't a liberal, by Peter Weber. The Week 11/27/13. The pope's first manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium, confirms a pontiff at home with Occupy Wall Street. With some big caveats.
  • Let’s Listen to Pope Francis on Economics, by Pascal-Emmanual Gobry. First Things "On The Square" 11/27/13. "When Pope Francis describes inequality and exclusion as very grave moral sins, we must let ourselves be challenged, and we must open our hearts."
  • The New Pope Doesn’t Heart the Free Market, by Todd Zywicki. The Volokh Conspiracy 11/26/13:
    Ever since the Galileo incident, the Catholic Church has generally tried to be careful to get its science right before it opines on ethical matters related to science. It takes seriously questions of bioethics and has developed internal expertise on those issues. Yet when it comes to economics, the Church seems to have no qualms about opining on issues of economics without even the slightest idea of what it is talking about.
  • When Economic Moralism Clashes with Reality, by Kishore Jayabalan. Acton Institute. 11/27/13.
  • Pope Francis and Poverty, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. National Review 11/26/13:
    ... it is difficult not to come away from reading Evangelii Gaudium thinking that there are just too many unexamined assumptions about the economy that have made their way into this document. Indeed, towards the end of his more direct economic observations, the pope seems to indicate his awareness that some of his thoughts about poverty and economics will generate criticism. “If anyone feels offended by my words,” he says, “I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology” (208). Instead, Francis writes, he is concerned with ensuring that people don’t succumb to the type of self-enclosed individualism that produces injustice and ultimately kills the soul.

    I myself take no offense from Evangelii Gaudium’s observations about poverty and the economy. In fact I admire Francis’s determination to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the material misery in which far too many people continue to live. His words are also a powerful reminder that Christ’s commandment to love the poor is truly non-negotiable for any serious Christian.

    Nevertheless, as Francis himself writes, “Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism” (232). And attention to particular realities about economic life is precisely what’s missing from parts of Evangelii Gaudium’s analysis of wealth and poverty. If we want “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good” to be more than what the pope calls a “mere addendum” to the pursuit of “true and integral development” (203), then engaging more seriously the economic part of the truth that sets us free would be a good start.

  • Beware the hobbyhorse. Evangelii Gaudium is not about economics, by Phil Lawler. Catholic Culture. 11/27/13:
    If you read Evangelii Gaudium as primarily an indictment of free-market economics, you read it all wrong. The Pope did have a good deal to say about economic matters (more on that later), but this is not an apostolic exhortation about economics.

    If you thought the big news was that the Pope reaffirmed that women cannot be ordained, or that he strongly condemned abortion, that’s wrong, too.

    Evangelii Gaudium is about the urgent need to tell the world the good news of God’s love, the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s flat-out impossible for any reasonably objective person to read the document and come away with any other idea about its central theme.



... On Everything Else

  • Pope Francis the Revolutionary, by George Weigel. Wall Street Journal 11/28/13:
    The first nine months of the pontificate of Pope Francis have often resembled a gigantic Rorschach test in which various commentators inside and outside the Catholic Church have "seen" their dreams and fears realized. Alas, what has been "seen" has often had little to do with the record of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as priest and bishop or with his most consequential decisions as pope.

    Those projections reached fever pitch with the publication on Tuesday of Francis' first apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), which was celebrated, or lamented, as if it were an Occupy Whatever position paper for a G-8 summit. Instead, the papal document should be read and appreciated for what it manifestly is: a clarion call for a decisive shift in the Catholic Church's self-understanding, in full continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

  • From Jeff Cullbreath (of the traditional Catholic blog New Sherwood): Did I read that right? (regarding the phrase "God’s saving love ... precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part"); Pope Francis, Holy Orders, the Council of Trent, and St. John Vianney; Pope Francis and non-Catholics -- as well as passages hinting at on what the Pope Francis' might propose at next year's Synod on the Family.
  • Evangelii gaudium and the liturgy: First thoughts, by Fr. Christopher Smith (Chant Cafe):
    One of the things I find fascinating here is that nowhere is the liturgy seen as a source of evangelization itself, nor is it seen as an end towards which evangelization should strive. Am I to conclude from this that the Bishops at the Synod and/or Pope Francis do not consider the liturgy to be even a part, much less central, to the New Evangelization? [...]

    If the objective of the New Evangelization were merely to introduce the non-believer to the person of Jesus to begin some form of relationship with Him, it would be hard to find the difference between it and the admirable forms of evangelization already done by our Protestant brethren. But if its objective is full communion with the Catholic Church, it is hard to see how the New Evangelization can ignore the fact that the liturgy is not tangential to it, but part and parcel of it. [...]

    Although I doubt that a Church made in the image and likeness of Evangelii gaudium would ever dispense with the Sacred Liturgy, it is clear that the perspective of the document indicates a different one than that outlined in Sacrosanctum Concilium. It is also hard to see how EG’s liturgical thought is in continuity with the broader aims of the classical or the new liturgical movements, or the liturgical theology of Pope Benedict XVI, even if EG, in many other areas, is most definitely in continuity with many insights of Ratzinger and the broader theological movements of the last century and today. In some way, EG’s liturgical theology could be said to be the triumph of an unintended by-product of the Catholic Reformation: an ecclesial culture where liturgy is merely what one has to go through to confect the Eucharistic species, and what is often set aside so people can go about the devotions of their own devising. Liturgy in EG appears far from being fons et culmen. Pope Benedict XVI’s assertion that the liturgy is a powerful element of the New Evangelization has been only weakly, if at all, carried over into the charter of that New Evangelization for our time. But that it has not, does not negate the truth of what the liturgy is in itself and its power to evangelize and equip disciples.

  • Pope Francis and the Gospel of Joy, by William L. Patenaude. Catholic World Report 11/27/13. The Pontiff’s apostolic exhortation is filled with warnings, encouragement, explanations, and challenges, all rooted in a pastor's love for the flock.
  • Francis and a church that breathes with both lungs, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 11/27/13:
    At the big-picture level, Francis says he wants a more missionary and more merciful church, one less afraid of change than of "remaining shut up with structures which give us a false sense of security," "rules which make us harsh judges," and "habits which make us feel safe."

    At the level of detail, Francis hints at reform in numerous arenas, including a blunt call for a "conversion of the papacy" toward a "sound decentralization." That includes at least one seemingly clear reversal of previous policy: assigning teaching authority to bishops' conferences, as opposed to a 1998 ruling under John Paul II denying them precisely that role.

    Yet there's a deeper sense in which "The Joy of the Gospel" stands in clear continuity with Francis' immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI, and in particular his 2009 social encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

    In effect, both documents amount to full-frontal assaults not on Catholic doctrine or discipline, but on contemporary Catholic sociology.

  • Preaching Law and Gospel – the Catholic Version, by David Schütz (Sentire Cum Ecclesia) 11/27/13.
  • Francis has succeeded in doing what no Pope has ever done: divide the ‘c’atholic Left, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. 11/27/13:
    Liberals are so happy that the Pope seems to be bashing conservatives, that they are ready and willing to accept that women will never ever be ordained.

    The “Joy of their Gospel” is to see conservatives get whacked. They are so overjoyed, as a matter of that, that they are willing to sacrifice their flagship.

    Yes, you will find a few waayyyy out on the even leftier fringe of their fleet – you know, the Gray Panthers – for whom Francis denial of women’s ordination this is still a problem. But, for the most part, Francis hit their liberal sweet spot so perfectly that they are taking the bitter hit amidships.

    “Trads to the WALL!” To them, it’s worth it.

    Make no mistake. The Big Issue for liberals is women’s ordination. Francis, the fluffiest and most wonderfullest Pope since Peter has now taken the issue away from them.

  • Pope Francis on the Joy of the Gospel, by Robert P. George. First Things 11/26/13.
  • Pope Francis' document delivers wake-up call on evangelization, by John Thavis. 11/26/13.
  • The New Apostolic Exhortation: Bothersome in more ways than one!, by Dr. Jeff Mirus. Catholic Culture. 11/26/13:
    There is only so much one can say about Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), before we come up against the fact that this is a post-synodal text from which only a relatively few people are going to benefit. As with the other exhortations of this type over the years, the vast bulk of it is occupied with putting in some sort of order nearly every insight offered at the Synod of Bishops which occasioned the document. For this reason, it often seems that the main benefit is going to be for each individual participant who scans through the document until his eyes eagerly alight on the little point that can be attributed to himself.
  • Evangelii Gaudium: First Impressions (11/26/13) | Second Impressions (11/27/13), by Michael Sean Winters. National Catholic Reporter:
    Evangelii Gaudium is remarkable the way Pope Francis is remarkable. He has set forth a bold vision for the Church, in this text and in the past nine months. The "sourpusses" are grumbling but we can hope that they, too, will catch the Francis Fever and see that it is not Francis' fever at all; it is the zeal of the Gospels, a Gospel that is credible when grasped and preached as attractive, not scolding, welcoming and not exclusionary.

    * * *

    There are not enough gold and red pens in the world for George Weigel to parse the clamant social justice sections out of Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation released yesterday. ... it is vital to keep in mind that the pope’s treatment of social justice is placed within the context of evangelization: The Pope is calling the Church to be a missionary Church, an evangelizing Church, and the privileged path of fidelity to the Gospel is service to the poor.

  • A New Vision for the Church, by James Martin, SJ. America 11/26/13. "In all my years as a Catholic, I cannot remember a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating. Frankly, reading it thrilled me."
  • 'Evangelii Gaudium' amounts to Francis' 'I Have a Dream' speech, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 11/26/13:
    Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel."

    In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.

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