So Here’s Francis’ New Apostolic Exhortation

So Here’s Francis’ New Apostolic Exhortation November 26, 2013

Evangelii Gaudium

I’ll try to comment when I come up for air.

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  • Paragraphs 52-60 are going to be particularly fun

    • Dan C

      Maybe. But Benedict and his encyclical was ignored.

      • IRVCath

        Ah, yes, customising our religion, our true national sport.

  • Dan C

    Check out paragraphs 182-216. Even the whole Chapter.

    • HornOrSilk

      Or 252-3. That will get many fighting mad

      • Dan C

        254. It has been disputed by many on Patheos Catholic channel already.

  • Anyone looking to easily read Evangelii Gaudium on their Kindle, Nook, tablet, or other ereader can find appropriate file formats here:

  • Thinkling

    Got it and will start tonight, but might take me till Christmas, it is 240 some pages on my pdf reader. 240 pages yeah Francis is an intellectual lightweight unlike that other guy [sarcasm].

    One pattern I have come to notice when it comes to interpreting papal or magisterial documents… dissidents who deny that Peter’s Office can bind tend to look for one line to isolate and celebrate (“who am I to judge”). Dissidents who deny that Peter’s office can loosen tend to look for one line to isolate and condemn (“proselytization is nonsense”). Those examples are of course not from documents but let’s watch the usual suspects and test the hypothesis. Better yet let’s just read it ourselves.

  • capaxdei


    I mean, I feel exhorted and all. But do I feel *apostolically* exhorted? Time will tell.

  • Halfway through and I’m finding it a pretty modest document actually. Carefully crafted to fit within the framework of JPII and Benedict. It dispels a lot of the myths about “SuperFrancis!” but to those actually paying attention, not much is revealed in this document.

    Of course, some people (on all sides) are already taking the time to bash fellow Catholics with Francis words, and they miss the point. Like a good spiritual director, he left no stone unturned in his diagnosis on the Church, and everyone shares a little guilt, no matter their persuasion.

    As always, asking how “right” or “wrong’ Francis is misses the point. The point is “what can I learn from the problems he has identified, and how many of them am I really guilty of?” Those who use Francis words to attack anyone will show they are just like the ones Francis slams for not really caring about Christ or the one they rebuke.,

    • Dan C

      I find the focus on the poor novel to social exhortations from the papacy. The poor in this document, not “society,” not workers, or economic systems, are a centerpiece of a huge portion of this exhortation. This is novel. As such, he departs from Benedict and JP2, but demonstrates how much Benedict has been teaching the Church (as a survey of the footnotes will demonstrate).

      His own lived social experience with the poor in ministry, and with his fellow bishops is highlighted with the prominent place of citations from the Aperecida document and Puebla document. One needs little reminder how much Aperecida relies on the Puebla and Medellin work as its foundation (both cited and specifically noted in the text).

      This part, this integration of the Latin American Church’s lived experience and notion’s of the poor and economics, is something the American Church can perhaps at least listen to as relevant, inspired, and perhaps an answer to the hole in our faith.

    • IRVCath

      Face it, you and I and Dan are guilty all of something. Makes me want to ask, “So, what you in for?”

  • Andy

    What Francis has done is to put into easily accessible language the teachings of the church. He has, and I have read this Exhortation only once, caused me to question myself – he has done that frequently – by using language that is direct.
    His commentary on decentralization of the church I think is valuable and offers insights into how he views the world. I think his comments on the economy were spot on and in line with Benedict and JP II – but I think by not being an academic in the strictest sense he is forcing us to think about our lives. His comments on solidarity should give all pause who preach only subsidiarily.
    I have to re-read what he has written to more fully think about its impact on my life. I feel a sense to think.

    • B.E. Ward

      In other words, standby for a George Weigel “he doesn’t really mean it” editorial?

      • Francisco J Castellanos

        I sense another “Mater si, Magistra no” moment coming soon…

        • HornOrSilk
          • merkn

            What’s venomous in that article? I thought the disagreements were expressed in a thoughtful reasonable manner, though I don’t share many of them.

            • Andy

              Although I did not agree with most of the disagreements, he was respectful, however, many of the respondents were not civil nor even slightly basing their responses in reality.

              • HornOrSilk

                Right, I assumed people would read the comments

      • Oh I’m waiting for it. Everyone gets mad when I say the prominent Catholics in America are merely managing the decline of the Church here, and all I have to do is point them to Weigel’s take on Catholic social teaching.

    • Meggan

      I just took another look at Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate (did I spell that right?). It says some of the same things that Pope Francis’ exhortation says. But the writing and the language in Benedict’s work is scholarly and sometimes difficult to grasp at first. I agree – Francis has put things into an easily accessible language. Right or wrong, I think people are paying attention to him because he’s easy to understand and he’s got a nice demeanor. Think about it – the school egghead nerd or the guy that everybody likes gets voted “Most Popular” in the yearbook. The guy that looks like Rumpelstiltskin or the guy that looks like your Uncle Frankie? (I actually did have a book as a child that has a picture of Rumpelstiltskin that highly resembles Pope Benedict). 🙂

      • $2346491

        I think that being accessible is a huge part of Francis’ appeal. It is the first Vatican document that I’ve ever read that is easy to understand.

      • Dan

        I agree that Francis is saying much of what Benedict said. The only thing in the apostolic exhortation that might be new is the message in paragraphs 204-06, which encourages politicians to develop solutions to poverty at the national and even international level.

    • $2346491

      I went over for my daily amusement at “Father” Z’s blog and he is whining about “translation issues.” Let me guess.. It is either the interreligious dialogue paragraphs or the social justice sections.
      (It’s translating from Spanish to English so there cannot be that many concerns.)

      • Bill

        I don’t always agree with Father Z, and often disagree with him and his tone and idiosyncratic interests, but he is a priest in good standing. Scare quotation marks around his title is extremely tacky. He is a very well-meaning priest and seems to be a nice guy.

        • $2346491

          Really? He strikes me as being a bully just based on the tone of his posts.

          • Bill

            he’s an opinionated person, like all of us, but he is alter Christus, and we’re all called to give somebody the benefit of the doubt, rather than suggest he’s an asshole or something
            you might not like the guy but his vocation deserves respect

            • Andy

              I respect his vocation – but the title “Reading Francis through Benedict” is beyond tacky and borders inappropriate. I also find that many of the folks in his com-boxes frighten the hell out of me – Francis as a poor pope, being tired of Francis and the like.
              I am not suggesting he is an “asshole”, but his rants and attempts to portray what Francis says in a light that he likes and then attacking others who see in their way is hypocritical.

              • Bill

                I agree that he attracts some real out there kind of folks. Not the level-headed Traditionalists like Stu and others here, but fringe types. And, he’s kind of fussy and maybe a bit smug, but I wouldn’t say at all he’s a bully or even that controversial.
                He knew Pope Francis personally in Rome, had breakfast with him several times.

                • mary

                  this is a lie…bill.

                  • Bill

                    What is a lie Mary? That Father Z said he had breakfast with Cardinal Bergiglio several times while Fr was staying at his residence in Rome (since he is, you know, incardinated in a suburban Roman diocese.

                    I’m not here to be his advocate, but that is a bold and scurrilous accusation

                    • $2346491

                      He was living at the same residence where Cardinal Bergoglio liked to stay when he was in Rome (i.e. the famous picture one); this doesn’t mean that the Pope personally knows Father Z. This is lucky for Father Z because he is the poster child of the traits that the Pope dislikes in priests. I also tend to think that the story itself is overblown and recited in a way that makes Father Z seem more important than he really is. What likely happened is that Father Z blew off Cardinal Bergoglio when he thought that he was just an elderly Argentine priest and then spent time falling all over himself to suck up to the future pope when he realized that Bergoglio was a bigwig.

              • Why is it so inappropriate to say you have to read one pope through another?
                Francis basically did that in his work yesterday, going to great lengths to situate himself within the work of tradition, especially the last two popes.

                Beefs about the comboxes are legit (lets be real, the comboxes here can get pretty disgusting and anywhere else), but if you can’t find what you think francis is saying in other popes, then there is a pretty high chance that you aren’t interpreting it correctly.

                • Andy

                  I think that to premise reading or looking at any person through the vision of another is inappropriate – i believe that we have to see each person as unique and as having a unique voice – to apply another person’s view to me is wrong. My personal belief – based maybe on my experiences as a special educator.

      • Hey look it’s time for everyone’s favorite Fr. Z basher!
        In regards to translation issues surrounding “trickle-down”, that actually is something.

        • $2346491

          I can read Spanish. That is essentially what Francis said in Spanish. I’m sorry but I’ve known since high school that Catholic social teaching was very liberal so I’m surprised that Father Z and others are just learning now that the Vatican and the Acton Institute don’t agree on economic policy. I guess Father Z isn’t an expert on Catholic teachings or perhaps he doesn’t want to tell his readers that if they want to get the prosperity Gospel to attend an Evangelical megachurch. They can even create their own which includes sparkly liturgies.

          And Father Z makes priests look bad and should annoy everyone.

  • Dan C

    I think when we compare this exhortation to Maradiago’s recent speech, we find a lot of congruence, which is interesting since in some quarters expressing largely the same words as Chapter 4 in this exhortation, Maradiago is declared a “social worker in red.”

    Additionally, while excerpting the advances Francis has made with regard the theology of the poor (also enunciated by Maradiago-suggesting these are shared experiences) this sounds like Benedict too.

    But Benedict was ignored.

    And one can see perhaps the two techniques of hand-waving we will experience of Francis: we see Bottum evolving in the direction of Neuhaus-Weigel conservative, in which he proposes Christianity has only a provate dimension, which is but a minor skip and jump from indicating that Churchmen have no role (charism) in preaching economic or military ethics as related to, for example the Gospel. The second technique is by Robert George, who has been trying to keep economic conservatives attendant to anti-abortion, family, and marriage matters (all while pursuing economic activities which undermine these goals-but let’s allow Dr. George to keep pretending…). Today in First Things, Dr. George finds the two references to which he has interest and hand-waves over all that “other stuff” which his particular coalition will find troublesome.

    • $2346491

      I thought that it was funny that First Things only put up the abortion reference and coded reference to the family. They didn’t even put up some of the pastoral things.

    • I think Francis was far more careful than His Eminence was. Francis wants political action, but realizes the limits of it. I don’t think His Eminence does. Francis wasn’t writing about “political sainthood.”

      I found that speech fascinating, but there’s clear differences in Francis. He had a lot more time to explain, and was far more modest. (Really, the document is very modest.)

      • Dan C

        I agree that Francis was far more careful. However, you did not debate the clear congruence of the two talks. Maradiago is not so much a “social worker in red” as much as part of the Latin American episcopate. This is clearly not so much a conspiracy of a clique as part of a deeply imbued dialogue that extends back at least 40 years. This is a dialogue in which Benedict/Ratzinger was a part, and one can see the quotations of Joseph Ratzinger in these regional conference statements. I think this is more due to the fact that the global conversation, which US Catholics have failed to participate in and listen to, is very different than the constricted don’t-offend-Raymond-Burke discourse that permeates the USCCB (I challenge one to see the number of times “solidarity” is mentioned in this document and how often “subsidiarity” is mentioned.)

        We see Puebla (which cites Medellin often) and Aparecida freely cited as sources in this document. That Acton has a rebuttal so soon is a great act of wisdom on their part-yes, this document is a core opposition paper to their position. Let this one statement be a notation for a core set of future discussions in global Catholicism:

        “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”

        I think a sentence seeking liberation of the poor in a papal document in this age is not accidental phraseology. Maradiago is not “off the reservation” at all. He is no “social worker in red.” He is part of a global Catholicism that the US has failed to be a part of, and Francis/Bergoglio was an active participant in this, both forming the discussion as well as being formed by the history of Medellin/Puebla/Aparecida.

        • I agree there does need to be more of that conversation. So I don’t think we are too far apart. His Eminence’s speech was just far too political for my tastes.

          Satan told Christ ALL the kingdoms of the world were his, whether Bolivarian Republic or Western European/American nation. I didn’t get that feeling in the speech of the good cardinal. I wrote about it a bit over at my page:

          Though at the same time I only spent a few sentences on the economic impact of his words, and far more on his belief that the Church of the past 500 years belived things “contrary to Jesus”

          • Dan C

            Maradiago’s social exhortations are quite modest and perhaps more positively expressed than the critiques-to-the-current-state that Francis poses.

            In terms of both, it is quite routine for 50 years now in countries in which there is really a paucity of clergy (unlike the US and the West) to exhort to the laity that they are the Church. This, for me, is kind of “blah” because I do want more priests and religious, and I think making distinctions in the roles is vital. Both embrace that too.

            The Church and the people of many Latin American countries over the past 500 years had….contentious relationships, in which the Church sided incorrectly against the people. The backlash was both political (like Mexico) and theological (see the Boff brothers). Maradiago comes from an episcopate that affirms, despite Vatican scowls, Medellin and Puebla. One needs to read this dialogue. As Americans we do not play the hero role in some of it.

  • Cale B.T.

    The response from Francis’ native Argentina:

  • Dave G.

    Wow. What would really be nice is if we read what the Pope wrote and thought ‘how does that apply to me.’

  • kirthigdon

    Interesting. I visited Argentina 13 years ago and was struck by how Catholic the country was. Now I don’t know. The left Peronist regime of the Kirchners seems to be degrading Argentine culture, not just the politics and the economy. The Argentine government seemed to be the only government in Latin America which was upset about the election of a native Argentine as Pope. “A prophet is not without honor except …. etc.” In the meantime, President Putin’s visit to Pope Francis and his expression of gratitude to the Pope whose prayers helped to ward off an attact on Syria by the US, may be another step in the re-union of the Orthodox with the Catholic Church. Russia is understandably wary of Poles and Germans, but there is no unhappy history between Russians and Argentines. As far as Pope Francis’s Apostolic exhortation is concerned, it strikes me as standard Catholic social teaching. In some areas, such as his criticism of the financialization of the economy, I’d have been a bit less diplomatic in my criticism of the oligarchs, but I realize that Popes have to be diplomatic. Pope Francis sets a very unusual example of charity to critics which I have to try hard to follow.

    Kirt Higdon

  • Elmwood

    The little I read basically reiterates that teaching that the church should be poor and for the poor, and not the rich and powerful.

    It’s great, and really challenges and removes all doubt that unregulated free-market capitalism as promoted by the GOP is at odds with our church and with God. Romney and Fr. Sirico should read carefully, as should all of us who live in material abundance but spiritual poverity here in the USA.

    Who can deny how monied interests have affected many lay run catholic media and publications who are obsessed with abortion and obamacare but say little to nothing about catholic social teaching. My theory is that like with abortion, there are hidden agendas at work, especially in catholic media, trying to dismiss catholic social doctrine as “an opinion”.

    Dorthy Day, not Adam Smith and Lord Acton.

    • kirthigdon

      Hidden agendas at work in opposition to abortion? Catholic teaching in opposition to abortion is a major part of Catholic social teaching in defense of the poor and helpless. Promotion of abortion by the rich and powerful such as the Gates’s and Rockefellers has the not so hidden agenda of carrying out a Malthusian extermination of the poor.
      Kirt Higdon

      • Elmwood

        we are in fact faced by an objective “conspiracy against life”, involving even international Institutions, engaged in encouraging and carrying out actual campaigns to make contraception, sterilization and abortion widely available Evangelium Vitae, JPII

        Similar “conspiracy against catholic social doctrine” is a work today even inside lay catholic run magazines and media. That was my point. The Acton Institute is a prime example. The insidious thing is that these groups can be wolves in sheep’s clothing, acting against a just redistribution of wealth.

        It’s public knowledge that the Koch brothers give money to the Acton Institute, and I suspect other catholic media outlets.

        • kirthigdon

          I haven’t previously been familiar with the Acton Institute, but Acton himself was a Catholic opposed to Papal authority, so naming a group after him did not strike me as too promising. Nonetheless, I went to the website and watched Father Sirico’s ten-minute video commentary on Pope Francis’s exhortation. Fr. S urged all of his viewers to read and carefully consider the Holy Father’s writing, praised the exhortation’s emphasis on helping the poor, pointed out the Institute’s own program for doing just that, praised other specific parts of the exhortation and raised a few questions, not in a spirit of dissent, but simply to ask for further explanation or exposition. If this is a “conspiracy against catholic social doctrine”, it is the most subtle I have ever run across.
          I don’t know if the Koch brothers are Catholic. I do have a good friend who has worked for them for a long time and if the way they treat him is like they treat their other workers (and he says it is), then they seem to be doing a good job of complying with Catholic social doctrine in the area of labor relations.
          Kirt Higdon

          • Elmwood

            The Acton Institute and Fr. Sirico (Koch bros) exist simply to promote trickle down wealth. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.

            Fr. Sirico should step down, but he won’t–the money is too good.

            • kirthigdon

              Elmwood, what I read on the link is a fairly technical discussion of tax policy by one Joe Carter and a few commenters with respect to what combination of business and personal taxes is most fair and most of benefit to the poor. Whether or not one agrees with some or all of Carter’s points or some or all of the points raised by commentators, I don’t see how this constitutes a conspiracy against Catholic social doctrine, let alone a conspiracy on the part of Fr. Sirico and the Koch brothers based on the fact that Fr. Sirico permits discussions like these on the AI blog and the Kochs contribute to the AI. Discussions like this and ones more far ranging are common in many venues and not just the Catholic media. There is a big difference between denying the validity of Catholic social teaching and discussing its practical application.

              The maldistribution of income and wealth in the US by the redistribution of income to the wealthy has been going on for decades now and is especially pronounced under the current regime. And I dare say this is not due to the influence of Fr. Sirico or the Kochs over Barack Obama or Ben Bernacke.

              Kirt Higdon

  • ivan_the_mad

    Here is a heartening admonishment to approach this exhortation with discerning mind and open heart:

    I particularly like his phrase “the most conventional version of free market economics”. Perhaps it will circumvent the nattering of those who who would derail conversation by appealing to No True Scotsman definitions, i.e. none of this is actually capitalism or free market economics therefore all criticism of such is dismissed out of hand.

  • capaxdei

    I’m kind of still stuck at the second sentence, chewing over how bondage to “sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness” is at work in my life and the lives of those around me. If I get that worked out, I might get my own economics straight.