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Evangelii Gaudium

Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in 2013. Also known by the English title The Joy of the Gospel, it was his first major teaching document. It is like a manifesto for Francis’ pontificate, addressing a wide range of topics. Although it is a long document, Francis’ conversational style makes it easy to read. He calls all Christians to share the joy of the Gospel and stresses the importance of the the social dimension of evangelisation.

Chapter one reminds us that the whole church is an evangelising community. Everyone and must get involved “by word and deed in people’s daily lives” in order to share the joy of the Gospel. Evangelisation should not be left to specialists – everyone has a role to play.

Chapter two looks at the context in which evangelisation takes place. It offers a discerning reading of the signs of the times. They include: an economy of exclusion; the idolatry of money; a financial system that rules rather than serves; and inequality that spawns violence.

Chapter three reminds us that salvation is not a purely private, individual thing. Evangelisation is a collective activity and engages the social nature of human beings.

Chapter 4 focuses especially on the social dimension of evangelisation. Pope Francis explains that the Gospel and a commitment to justice, development and peace are inseparably linked. Then he focuses on two issues that strike him “as fundamental at this time in history.” They are the inclusion of the poor in society and peace and social dialogue.

Chapter five concludes the exhortation with a call to be spirit-filled evangelisers. It reiterates that “mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people.” It is a call to transform the world.

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