by Jay Chin
Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Latin for The Joy of the Gospel) explicates the priorities of his papacy, his opinions regarding the world we live in, and the shortcomings within the Church. As such, the Exhortation has become the subject of much conversation and debate, inciting discussions on topics ranging from the ordination of women to the dangers of a so-called Promethean Neopelagianism and even the issues created by certain economic systems, particularly unbridled capitalism.
The Exhortation was written to address seven main questions: the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach; the temptations of pastoral workers; the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes; the homily and its preparation; the inclusion of the poor in society; peace and dialogue within society; and the spiritual motivations for mission. He speaks to these seven questions throughout five chapters while also touching upon several other topics that affect the answers to these questions.
The main premises and the core of the exhortation are nothing new. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has been calling for and working toward reform; moreover, a call for a New Evangelization has been preached since the pontificate of Blessed Pope John Paul II. And most Catholics agree to a great extent on these two needs.
What this Apostolic Exhortation does more than anything is outline what Pope Francis believes is expected of us in light of the demands of the gospel. Simply put, he expects us to do our job as missionaries, to do it sincerely, and to do it together, as a Church committed to spreading the truth of the gospel, prioritizing the poor and proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ. No matter what burdens we must bear nor what personal weaknesses we must overcome in order to get the message across, we must make sure that every person has the opportunity of experiencing the joy we have experienced in accepting and encountering the good news of Christ.