Vatican City, 26 November 2013 (VIS) -Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, speaking at the press conference presenting the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, presented aspects referring to synodality, while Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli considered aspects relating to communication.
“The Holy Father’s document Evangelii Gaudium (EG) is the outcome of the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on 'New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith' (2012), a proclamation of joy to Christian disciples and missionaries, and to all humanity”, said Archbishop Baldisseri. “The Holy Father received and reviewed the Synod Fathers’ Propositiones, and made them his own, re-elaborating them in a personal way, and has written a programmatic, exhortative document in the form of an “Apostolic Exhortation”, central to which is mission in its fullest sense. A striking aspect, from the very first pages onwards, is the joyful presentation of the Gospel – thus, Evangelii Gaudium – which is expressed also in the repetition, 59 times throughout the text, of the word 'joy'.
“The Pope has taken the Propositiones into account, citing them 27 times). On this basis, emerging from the reflections of the Synod Fathers, he develops the Exhortation within a solid doctrinal framework, founded on biblical and magisterial references, with a thematic presentation of the various aspects of faith, in which he affirms the principles and the doctrines incarnate in life. This development is enriched by references to the Fathers of the Church, including St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, to mention just a few, and is further supported by the work of Medieval masters such as Blessed Isaac de l’Etoile, St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomas à Kempis, modern theologians including Blessed John Henry Newman, Henri De Lubac and Romano Guardini, and other writers such as Georges Bernanos.
“In particular, there are frequent textual references to Apostolic Exhortations such as Paul VI’s Evangelii nuntiandi (13 references), and other post-Synodal texts such as Christifideles laici; Familiaris consortio; Pastores dabo vobis; Ecclesia in Africa, in Asia, in Oceania, in America, in Medio Oriente, in Europa and Verbum Domini. Furthermore, significant attention is paid to the pronouncements of the Latin American episcopates, as well as the Puebla and Aparecida documents, those of the Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East in their 16th Assembly, and those of the Episcopal Conferences of India, the United States, France, Brazil, the Philippines, and Congo.
“The theme of synodality is introduced in the first part of the document, which deals with 'The Church’s missionary transformation'. From the perspective of a Church who 'goes forth' (20), 'from ourselves to our brothers and sisters' (179), the Holy Father proposes a complete 'pastoral of conversion'. … It is clear that he intends to include in this 'pastoral of conversion' special attention to the exercise of the primacy; he therefore affirms that 'the papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion' (32).
With reference to the Vatican Council II, along with the ancient patriarchal Churches, the Holy Father expresses his hope that the Episcopal Conferences may be able “to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit” (Lumen Gentium 22, Evangelii Gaudium 32). This expression of synodality would bring specific attributions, in relation to doctrinal authority and governance (cf. 32). With regard to ecumenism – and thanks also to the presence at the Synod of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Canterbury (cf. 245), synodality is expressed in a particular way since, through “dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality” (246).
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli spoke about the “communicative dimension in the new evangelization” in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation.
“It is immediately clear that the Pope is aware of what is happening in today’s world, especially in the fields of health, education, and communications”, said the Archbishop. “and he makes reference to technological innovation”.
“There is no doubt that there has been progress and achievement in these fields, but the Pope is also aware that the current information society bombards us indiscriminately with data, all treated as of equal importance, which can lead to great superficiality in the area of moral discernment. For this reason the Pope emphasizes the need for a true education which teaches how to think critically and encourages the development of mature moral values. The document also recognizes that the current, enhanced possibilities for communication can open wider avenues of encounter among people. Hence the need to discover and share the mystery of living together, of mingling and encounter”.
He went on to explain that a significant part of the text focuses on analysing how the message of the Church is communicated. “The Pope is aware of the speed of communication today and how at times the media have a selective interest in various types of content. This is why there is a risk that the message can appear to be distorted or reduced to secondary considerations. … In confronting these risks, the Pope maintains that we must be realistic, we should not 'assume that our audience understands the full background to what we are saying, or is capable of relating what we say to the very heart of the Gospel'. For this reason the Pope emphasises that in our proclamation of the message we must concentrate on the essence, on what is truly beautiful, most significant , most attractive and at the same time truly necessary. We must keep the message simple without losing anything of its depth and truth so that it remains convincing and powerful”.