BY Ian Dunn | November 29 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pope’s apostolic exhortation places focus on mercy

An extensive document detailing Pope Francis’ vision for a Church where mercy is dominant, proportion is necessary and all are welcome sparked great interest when it was released this week.

Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), released on Tuesday is the Holy Father’s first apostolic exhortation, one of the most authoritative categories of Papal document.

The Holy Father wrote the new document in response to the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation, but declined to work from a draft provided by synod officials. His first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, published in July, was mostly the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

In the 50,000 word document, the Pope said he desires a more decentralised Church, one which is ‘bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets,’ and warns ‘excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and Her missionary outreach.’

The Church’s message ‘has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most… appealing and at the same time most necessary,’ he writes.

Inspired by Jesus’ poverty and concern for the dispossessed during His earthly ministry, Pope Francis calls for a ‘Church which is poor and for the poor.’ The poor ‘have much to teach us,’ he writes.

“We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voices to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”

Pope Francis also reiterates his earlier criticisms of ‘ideologies that defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation,’ which he blames for the current financial crisis and attributes to an ‘idolatry of money.’

He emphasises that the Church’s concern for the vulnerable extends to ‘unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us,’ whose defence is ‘closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right.’

The Holy Father also ‘humbly’ calls on Muslim majority countries to grant religious freedom to Christians, and enjoins Catholics to ‘avoid hateful generalisations’ based on ‘disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism,’ since ‘authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Qur’an are opposed to every form of violence.’

Pope Francis reaffirms Church teaching in the document that only men can be priests, but notes that their ‘sacramental power’ must not be ‘too closely identified with power in general,’ nor ‘understood as domination;’ and he allows for the ‘possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.’


— Document in full, see






—This story ran in full in the November 29 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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