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Evangelii Gaudium

Started by cssml, December 06, 2013, 11:13:31 AM

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Pope Francis recently released his first official document written entirely by himself, Evangelii Gaudium.  I have not finished it yet, it is about 50k words.  As with many things the pope has said, it is getting a lot of media commentary, from all over the spectrum.  Christopher Stefanick has a great reflection on EG and the media's response to it.  This is the beginning of his reflection:

"Pope Francis has laid out his plans for the Church in Evangelii Gaudium (EG). Rush Limbaugh read it and has concluded he's a Marxist. Politically conservative evangelicals fear they've lost an ally in the Catholic Church. The pro-gay marriage lobby and Planned Parenthood are disillusioned after reading paragraphs 66 and 213, and rightly so. Pius X Society sympathizers are on edge after reading 108. "Left-leaning" Catholics who were hoping for a female priesthood are deflated after reading paragraph 104. Mainstream media labels him a progressive. Whose side is this man on anyway?

That he's getting the entire world's attention is undeniable. (I was recently interviewed on Al Jazeera TV about him. That's a first for me!) But I think most of the world, from Rush to HuffPost to Al Jazeera, has absolutely no idea how to read him. That's because most of the world is examining the 265th successor of Peter through the wrong lens.

The Church has never fit the hyper-politicized lens the Western World has come to see all things through. We're "right of center" on abortion and gay marriage. We're "left of center" on immigration and the need to care for the poor. Maybe that's because our "center" is Jesus Christ."

He goes on the share a snippet from Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier, taken from a letter from him to St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits).  St Francis writes from India to St. Ignatius:

"Many, many people...are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: 'What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!'"

This was in the office of readings for Dec 3rd, his feast day.  I believe we have a pope who is deeply missionary at heart who is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, as well as fellow Jesuit St. Francis Xavier.

The following is another great discussion on EG and the media coverage of it by Mark Shea:

I offer these two reflections from thoughtful catholic voices (laypeople) to balance the many voices outside the church who are talking about it (NYT, Rush, CNN, Huff post, Fox News, ...)


I'm very impressed by the Evangelii Gaudium. It was well worth my time to read through it. For the most part, I agreed with what the Pope wrote. The only weak part was a bit of an over emphasis, at the end, on the pious opinion of Mary being an "advocate" for us in our intercessions. The Lutheran Confessions do acknowledge that she prays for the church. It is just that I don't read Scripture as necessarily indicating that she is in a position to hear our specific prayers on the earth and join with us in, with and for our intercessions.

I also did read one section of the Evangelii Gaudium that raised questions. It was this section:

254. Non-Christians, by God's gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live "justified by the grace of God",[199] and thus be "associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ".[200] But due to the sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God's working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying towards God.[201] While these lack the meaning and efficacy of the sacraments instituted by Christ, they can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences. The same Spirit everywhere brings forth various forms of practical wisdom which help people to bear suffering and to live in greater peace and harmony. As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs.

Can this section be reconciled with evangelical Lutheran theology? In another post, an argument is made that the "Semi-Pelagian" sounding end of the Athanasian Creed requires as John Hannah states it, "special exegesis." Could a type of "special exegesis" also be applied to the Pope's recent statement in regards to #254 of the Evangelii Gaudium to make it compatible with Lutheran theology?

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