The Holy Father’s Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel

evangeliiMedia Release, 27 November, 2013

Since his election, Pope Francis has surprised and refreshed the Church and the world in many ways. He has done it again with the publication of the first text which is definitely his own, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. The Australian Catholic Bishops welcome its publication and thank the Holy Father for the gift which he has given the Church.

His first Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei was, as he said, “The work of four hands”. In it, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis spoke with a single voice. But now Pope Francis speaks with a voice that is very direct and very personal. He gathers up the work of the Synod on the New Evangelisation, and the voice of the universal Church is heard in what he writes. But it is also the voice of Francis that we hear unmistakeably.

The Bishops not only recommend this very readable document to all people, but will do all we can to ensure that its teaching is widely known. The document is long; there are many words. But it is geared essentially to action. That is why the Bishops are keen for it to be known as widely as possible. We need action – in our own lives, in the Church and in society as a whole.

There is much in what the Pope writes that is challenging, especially to us as Bishops. We will read and re-read his words as an examination of conscience. Much of what the Holy Father writes goes to the heart of our episcopal ministry, and we cannot ignore it. In it, we hear the voice of Christ.

The same voice speaks to the whole Church. Therefore, we ask all the baptised to listen to what the Pope has said, that we may together hear more deeply the voice of Christ.

At a time when we are under pressure, these words come as deep encouragement. We want that encouragement and the refreshment it brings to go forth far and wide.

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