Holy Father Pope Francis in his latest apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, (the Joy of Evangelization) released in the last week of November has dealt with a wide range of issues like evangelisation, parishes, secularisation, family, abortion, women’s priesthood, science and religion, the poor, peace, economy, ecumenical dialogue and Islam. Holy Father has categorically pointed out the diminishing interest in religious matters. Probably to revive this Pope says that ‘mere administration’ can no longer be enough,’ to be missionary. He says that in throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission.’ Holy Father says that ‘we need to be transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light.’ By saying Holy Father open possibilities of making the parishes and other centres of mission completely channels of living communion and participation.
The apostolic exhortation has given a positive ascend to the ministries of the Catholic Church when it says that ‘despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion. The Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth.’ The great role of the Church in the existing profound cultural crisis in the families is also highlighted. And without permitting abortion it has also raised its concern on abortion resulting from situations of rape or abject poverty. It might be an opening of a closed chapter in the case of priesthood being reserved to men. Apostolic exhortation says ‘the reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power “we are in the realm of function not that of dignity or holiness’.
Holy Father says that ‘the poor has a lot to teach us, they are sharing the suffering Christ. The new evangelization must acknowledge the saving poser at work in them and put them to the centre of Church’s pilgrim way. He compares commandment that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. The Pope asks the question; can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. In the light of this poverty he exhorts ‘to find Christ in them, to lend our voice 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.’
Holy Father has emphasised the need of ecumenical dialogue. He says, ‘the credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions.’ It is a fact that we can continue to worship in our own way in our churches and homes but we can definitely be on one platform on the socio-political life. Pope also speaks about the need to develop our relation with Muslims. He says that ‘our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God.’ The Pope through his apostolic exhortation has called up on the Catholic Church communities worldwide to become active missionaries living the message of Christ. The apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, is a practical approach to the problems faced by the Christian community in total.
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