Pope Francis has now revealed his plan: he wants a change of the Church’s culture and character, a change of its priorities and a change of its structures, writes The Tablet in an editorial.
He wants a Church that is neither sleepwalking nor marching in step, but that goes forth into the world, getting the mud of the streets on its shoes, to deliver the message of God’s infinite care for every bit of it.
In what is not so much a reversion to the papal “we” of tradition as an exclamation of joy on behalf of the whole Church, he declares: “We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us … ” It is an example of the infectious exuberance through which, by numerous eloquent gestures, he has already touched the hearts of millions all over the world.
Technically called an apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium is literally that too: the Pope joyfully exhorting his flock to rethink almost everything it does in pursuit of its one key aim, evangelisation. But in so doing, he redefines this not as a “churchifying” process but as almost the opposite. Old certainties and familiar ways all fall under the lash of his sometimes withering prose.
“Rather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”
Church of compassion and mercy
Contrary to those who equate evangelisation simply with encouraging church-going, he embraces “those members of the faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways but seldom taking part in worship”.
Reminding priests that the confessional must not become a “torture chamber”, he hails anyone who takes “a small step, in the midst of great human limitations”, which can be more pleasing to God “than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties”.
This is a pastoral style that refuses to let the best stand as the enemy of the good. “The Eucharist,” he says, “although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
FULL STORY Pope reveals the joy of evangelisation