Monthly Archives: December 2013

Your Daily Nightmare: Downsizing Every Copy

What happens to lawbook references if all the copies of that lawbook have been thrown away and all the libraries downsized?

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Les Wins! We All Win!

Sherlock Holmes is now free in the US.

Ever since Arthur Conan Doyle passed away, writers have been complaining about the crappy behavior of the Doyle Estate.* So it came as no surprise that, when the Holmes stories passed into the public domain, the Estate kept right on claiming that they had the right and duty to keep charging for use of the characters and quotes.

And since writers and publishers are mostly not a litigious lot, they put up with legal threats and prettified extortion of money.

Until Les Klinger, because he is just that awesome.

So this week, a scholarly gentleman who loves truth triumphed over the forces of thuggery, and got Sherlock Holmes (and all his fellow pre-1923 characters and settings) declared to be part of the public domain in the United States. This ruling doesn’t apply in the EU and elsewhere, but it sure applies to a lot of excellent projects about Holmes.

Here’s the ruling from Judge Castillo. (A Solomon come to judgment!)

Of course, Klinger didn’t win everything. His lawyers’ attempt to get “events” in post-1923 stories to be ruled public domain was slapped down, albeit genially. But this was probably a sacrificial offering, to let the judge show fairness to the Doyle Estate.

However, the judge definitely didn’t have any truck with the Estate’s bizarre argument that, since the post-1922 stories still in copyright continued to develop the characters and settings, you have to be thinking about “The Adventure of the Three Gables” any time you write a story based on “A Study in Scarlet” (the first published Holmes story), which was written nearly fifty years before. Obviously this is stupid. And the judge was not amused.

* (Most notably in Doyle’s son Adrian’s treatment of John Dickson Carr, demanding the lion’s share of the money and his name first on stories, which was notorious to the point that Anthony Boucher fictionally skewered and killed Adrian in his mystery, The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars.)


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Dialect Map Fun

If you haven’t already played with the NY Times dialect map/questionnaire game, I recommend trying it out. It picks out a random group of questions from one of the big American dialect surveys (the Harvard Dialect Survey, in which a Harvard prof surveyed students and linked the results to their hometowns, as opposed to any of the Labov telephone survey ones) and then maps the answers, trying to give you two or three cities or areas that your answers are most like. Users have variously reported it to be eerily accurate down to the county, and eerily inaccurate to the point of madness.

For me, it was quite accurate. However, Dayton has been the subject of a fair amount of interested study as a place of dialectal collision and mixing, so no big surprise. I also got Omaha and another Western city close to it, but the forces of dialectal collision are quite similar out there.

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Bible Interpretation Fail

Recently witnessed, on a comment thread about the whole “Phil Robertson quotes Paul and that’s hatespeech” thing:

A male person, attracted to persons of the same sex and advocating sexual activities with them as not unlawful to Christians, proceeded to quote Jesus on “For there are eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven” — as making it okay for men to have gay sex with men.

First of all, this betrays a huuuuuuge misunderstanding of what a eunuch is. A eunuch is a man who has been castrated, which is to say that his testicles have been removed. If done in childhood, he will never fully mature sexually, and will be basically unable to have sex in the strict sense (with men or women) because his primary sexual organ won’t work. (We are told historically that there were ways to work around this, but that most eunuchs weren’t interested in anything spicier than combing people’s hair.)

Second, the whole point was that they couldn’t make women pregnant or have heirs, and were thus “safe” to have working inside the home of an Oriental king with a big harem. The passage is basically saying that the two God-approved ways to live are that either you marry, or you are a “safe” person to be around, one who never has sex with anybody else and does not threaten the chastity of other people’s marriages or other unmarried people.

Thirdly, Jesus’ eunuch remarks come in the context of his remarks on the fact that having an indissoluble marriage between one man and one woman was what God intended from the beginning of the world; and that if you couldn’t take that, you had the further choice of never marrying and never having sex at all, and thus being like a eunuch or a child.

Let us quote, beginning at Mt. 19:3 —

And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”

He, answering, said to them, “Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female?” And he said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

They say to him, “Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?”

He says to them, “Because Moses, by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, commits adultery.”

His disciples say unto him, “If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.”

He said to them, “All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.”

Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.

But Jesus said to them, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.” And when he had imposed hands upon them, he departed from thence.

A man who is a eunuch “born so from” his “mother’s womb” is a person born without testicles, or with one or more undescended testicles that will never descend. This is a fairly common birth defect among many kinds of animals as well as among male human beings. There are also other birth defects which prevent testicles from developing correctly, or prevent puberty altogether.* You might also argue that men who do not have any particular sexual feelings or urges (the so-called asexual men) are also born eunuchs. Further, you could extend this to women who have birth defects preventing puberty or actual sex or sexual feelings and urges.

Being a eunuch from birth and from the womb is not anything like being a man (or woman) interested in his own sex. That is a case where the person is either glorifying and acting upon their sexual urges and feelings, or remaining chaste in spite of their sexual urges and feelings. It is certainly not a case in which one is powerless to have or want sex with anyone.

Judaism always taught that it was wrong to castrate boys or men, and Christianity has generally followed that (barring the unfortunate Byzantine craze for eunuch bureaucrats and choir members, which managed to migrate to Italy and survive for a couple centuries after Constantinople’s fall). Being a literal eunuch (born or made by men) was generally held to bar one from both the Jewish and Christian priesthood (which was why Origen was accused of having castrated himself) as well as from marriage, but eunuchs could otherwise participate fully in Christian and Jewish life. Eunuchs appear fairly frequently in the Bible in courts outside Israel (both as good guys and bad guys, but more often good guys), and of course Acts tells us about the miraculous sending of an apostle to teach and baptize the Ethiopian eunuch going home from Jerusalem to Sheba.

In Greco-Roman times, the commonest interpretation difficulty with this eunuchs passage was that some literal-minded young men (mostly Egyptians, for some reason) interpreted “eunuchs who make themselves so for the kingdom of heaven” as a call to be castrated as adults, rather than interpreting it in the traditional Christian way — as a call for all adults who didn’t marry, to remain celibate for eternal life’s sake. (It is traditional to quote this verse about celibate priests and monks, for instance.) Nobody that I can recall ever interpreted it as being a call to homosexual sex or homosexual marriage — not even the weirder heretical sects.

So yes, this is a particularly un-useful quote for homosexual activists to use, unless they are advocating chaste celibacy for everyone with same-sex attractions.

* Many of these birth defects and conditions are treatable today with surgery, hormones, etc. And before anybody asks, it is perfectly permissible for Christians to be treated for such things.

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Google and Apple Commuter Buses Attacked

The usual hired protesters and Communist protest-runners now have a new issue de jour they call “Displacement.” Apparently it is wrong for tech workers to live outside San Jose, because it’s gentrifying Oakland and driving up property values. What you want in Oakland is more gang members.

Anyhoo, the economic issues apparently don’t matter, because this week the protesters decided to “infiltrate” buses, then block them from leaving while haranguing a bunch of programmers who haven’t had their coffee yet. Then the protesters started breaking windows and threatening harm. Oh, and mocking the programmers for, you know, going to work and being productive.

Obviously it would be awesome fun (for the programmers) if they started doing this to the kind of programmers who play with knives, guns, martial arts, and explosives, but they aren’t targeting defense contractors or anything like that.

Here’s a link to a big jerk protester’s article, which tells us how kind and gentle he and his buddies are. Because telling people to F off, and breaking glass in people’s faces, is exactly how Mother Teresa operated. Telling people to have fun, while endangering their lives and depriving them of liberty and a day’s wages, is totally the same as hugging lepers.

The sweet, reasonable tone of the standard ANSWER font flyer is particularly telling. (Scroll down.)

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If You Like Zorro…. has a subtitled version of the 2009 Spanish swashbuckling TV series, Aguila Roja (Red Eagle).

By day, he is a mild-mannered 17th century Spanish family man and teacher.

By night, he is a bold swordsman with superb stealth skills, fighting the crooked mayor to avenge his wife’s death, and protect his young son! He is the Red Eagle!

Did I mention that nobody knows his secret identity except his faithful servant and a local monk?

So yeah, just a tad Zorro-ish… but there are two seasons of it!

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You Win ALL the Internets….

D.G. Davidson, “Sci-Fi Catholic,” bon vivant, Chestertonian defender of friendship, and Swiftian writer of MLP fanfic, has decided to write the saga of a American seminarian in Canterlot. Said intrepid seminarian has just been assigned the job of inculturating Christmas pageants into the project of evangelizing Equestria, and has determined (for good and sufficient reasons) that eggnog should be an integral part thereof.

Ladies and gentlefen, I give you, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pageant.”

I also give Mr. Davidson the factoid that eggnog in Mexican Spanish is “rompope.”

But I’m sure he doesn’t have to be told how often “Evangelii Gaudium” mentions “friendship” (mostly with Christ) as a Big Deal. (10 times. And there are five uses of “friend,” including the bit where we hear that Mary is the amiga always making sure we have enough wine in our lives.)

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Totally Unofficial Translation 9: “Evangelii Gaudium”

V. A mother of open heart.

46. The Church on the outward-bound journey is a Church with open doors. To go out to everybody else, in order to reach the human peripheries, does not imply running into the world without a route and without sense. Many times, it is better to delay one’s step, to put aside one’s anxiety, in order to see with one’s own eyes and to listen; or to renounce these urgencies in order to accompany the one who has stopped at the side of the road. At times, one is like the prodigal son’s father, who keeps the doors open so that when he should return, he should be able to enter without difficulty.

47. The Church is called to be always the Father’s open house. One of the concrete signs of that opening is to have churches with open doors in all regions. In that way, if someone wants to follow a motion of the Spirit and
approaches it looking for God, he will not find the coldness of closed doors. But there are other doors which one must not close, either. Everyone can participate in some way in ecclesial life; everyone can integrate into the community, and so neither must the doors of the Sacraments be closed for any reason whatever. This helps, above all, when one deals with that Sacrament which is “the door,” Baptism.

The Eucharist, if the plenitude of the sacramental life is well constituted, is not a reward for the perfected, but a generous remedy and nourishment for the weak. (51) These convictions also have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Often, we comport ourselves as controllers of grace and not as facilitators. But the Church is not a customshouse; it is the paternal house where there is a place for each one with his life on his back.

48. If the entire Church takes on this missionary dynamism, she must reach everyone without exceptions. But whom must she favor? When one reads the Gospel, one finds oneself with a convincing orientation: not so much toward friends and rich neighbors, but instead, above all, to the poor and sick, to those who are accustomed to be despised and forgotten, to those yonder who “do not have anything to recompense you with.” (Lk. 14:14) Doubts must not stay nor explanations have room which might weaken this message, so clear. Today and always, “the poor are the privileged addressees of the Gospel,” (52) and evangelization directed freely toward them is a sign of the Kingdom which Jesus came to bring. One has to say without swerving that an inseparable link exists between our faith and the poor. Never should we leave them all alone.

49. Let’s go out, let’s go out, to offer the life of Jesus Christ to everyone. I repeat here for all the Church that which I have said many times to the priests and laypeople of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church injured, wounded, and dirtied by going out on the street, before a Church sick from being shut in, and the comfort of being moored to her own safeties. I do not want a Church worried by being the center, and which would end closed up within a thicket of obsessions and procedures. If something must upset us in a holy way, and worry our conscience, it is that so many of our brothers would live without the force, the light, and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith that would hold them, without a horizon of meaning and of life. More than the fear of us being wrong, I hope that what moves us is the fear of being enclosed in the structures that give us a false contention, in the norms which turn us into implacable judges, in the customs where we feel ourselves tranquil, while outside there is a hungry multitude and Jesus repeats to us without tiring: “Give them something to eat, you all!” (Mk. 6:37)


[51] Cf. SAINT AMBROSE, De Sacramentis, IV, 6, 28: PL 16, 464: “I must receive it always, so that it may always forgive my sins. If I sin continually, I must always have a remedy”; ID., op. cit., IV, 5, 24: PL 16, 463: “Those who ate manna died; those who eat this body will obtain the forgiveness of their sins”; SAINT CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, In Joh. Evang., IV, 2: PG 73, 584-585: “I examined myself and I found myself unworthy. To those who speak thus I say: when will you be worthy? When at last you present yourself before Christ? And if your sins prevent you from drawing nigh, and you never cease to fall – for, as the Psalm says, ‘what man knows his faults?’ – will you remain without partaking of the sanctification that gives life for eternity?”

[52] BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Brazilian Bishops in the Cathedral of São Paulo, Brazil (11 May 2007), 3: AAS 99 (2007), 428.


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Atheist Reviewer Defends Church, Gets Flogged

It’s awfully inconvenient when film reviewers have a sense of history, and complain about contemporary mores being imposed upon the past, or the past being portrayed incorrectly.

It’s twice as inconvenient for the studios when they’ve ginned up a nice anti-Catholic, anti-nun “docudrama,” and a New York atheist reviewer tells them they’re full of BS.

Here’s the journalism saga, from Get Religion.

The original review included the memorable line, “…if 90 minutes of organized hate brings you joy, go and buy your ticket now.” Pretty much nothing deployed against the reviewer will make you think he was wrong.

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Don’t Believe the Media on Chinese Religion

The Chang’e 3 moon lander was not named for “the Chinese goddess of the Moon.” Chang’e (or Chang-o/Heng’o, in the older Anglicization styles) is a woman who either fled to the Moon after stealing either the Peaches of Immortality or an immortality pill made from the peaches, or a goddess trying to regain her immortality who ate too much of a magic immortality pill and thus floated uncontrollably up into heaven until she was stopped by the Moon. Either way, she was unable to leave again. Some have her fleeing her husband, the archer Houyi who saved the solar system by shooting down nine out ten belligerent suns, and some have her longing for him all this time.

So she’s a goddess who lives on the Moon, but she’s also a prisoner, a castaway, or an exile. She doesn’t personify the Moon or control it. She is worshipped mostly for her presumed ability to provide her worshippers with beauty and grace, as she is said to have been the greatest dancer among all the Chinese pantheon; she is also associated with immortality.

More seriously, the Yutu lunar rover, aka Jade Rabbit, is also not named for any “pet” of Chang’e. The Rabbit on the Moon is what Chinese and Japanese people see instead of the Man in the Moon. His “jade” color is white jade. In the Japanese tradition, the Moon Rabbit makes mochi (sweet rice treats), but Chinese tradition has him making various kinds of magical elixirs. One tradition says that he’s been working all this time on making a pill to let Chang’e fly home. Anyway, he lived on the Moon before Chang’e ever came along, and he probably was originally a moon god — although now he’s also considered to be just a deity who lives on the Moon.

(Of course, rabbits and the Moon have strong associations all over the world, probably because rabbits sometimes go out on moonlit nights to eat and play, whereas most daytime animals don’t. There’s also an association of ideas between the Moon and rabbits’ obvious high fertility rates — and of course, some other people besides the Chinese see rabbits on the Moon’s face.)

Some people see the Man in the Moon as carrying a bundle of sticks, and this viewpoint is represented by the woodcutter Wu Gang, who is also immortal and trapped on the Moon. He can escape if he can cut down an ever-growing cassia tree, which either represents his own life or all mortal life on Earth, but he is never able to chop faster than the tree can grow. Some people also saw a toad on the Moon, but there doesn’t seem to be much on the Internet about that.

(Insert obligatory MLP reference to the imprisoned Mare in the Moon.)

Characters inspired by these folks are always showing up in anime and manga. Probably the best example is Sailor Moon, whose personal name (Usagi) means Rabbit. In the Space Brothers anime, Hibito (who becomes the first Japanese man on the Moon) is given the nickname Hibbit for his habit of hopping around, when in low gravity.

Anyway… my point is that the media doesn’t do a lot of research on this stuff, so you’ll have to look it up for yourself.

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Totally Non-Official Translation 8: “Evangelii Gaudium”

Once again, a very literal translation. Significant differences from the official version have been bolded.

IV. The mission which incarnates itself within human limits

40. The Church, who is a missionary disciple, needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed Word, and in her comprehension of the truth. The task of the exegetes and theologians helps to “mature the Church’s judgment.” (42) In another way, all the rest of the fields of knowledge also do it. Referring to the social sciences, for example, John Paul II has said that the Church pays attention to their contributions “in order to grasp concrete indications that may help her to perform her mission of Magisterium.” (43) Besides, in the Church’s bosom, there are innumerable issues among those which she investigates and reflects upon with broad liberty. Distinct lines of philosophical, theological, and pastoral thinking, if allowed to harmonize through the Spirit in respect and love, also can make the Church grow, for they already help explain better the Word’s richest treasure. To those who dream about a monolithic doctrine defended by all, without any shading, this can appear an imperfect dispersion to them. But the reality is that this variety helps, in order that the diverse aspects of the inexhaustible wealth of the Gospel should better manifest and develop themselves. (44)

41. At the same time, the enormous and fast cultural changes require that we should pay a constant attention in order to express truths, always in a language which permits one to notice their enduring newness. Then, in the deposit of Christian doctrine, “the substance is one thing… and the manner of formulating its expression is another.” (45) At times, listening to completely orthodox language, what the faithful may receive (owing to the language which they use and understand) is something that does not answer to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. With the holy intention of sharing with them the truth about God and about human existence, on some occasions, we give a false god or a human ideal that is not truly Christian. In that way, we are faithful to a formulation, but do not proffer the substance. That is the gravest risk. We should remember that “the expression of the truth can be multiform, and the renewal of the forms of expression makes itself necessary in order to transmit the evangelic message in its immutable significance to today’s man.” (46)

42. This has a great incidence in the announcement of the Gospel, if in truth we have the proposition, the beauty of which could be better perceived and welcomed by everybody. We could never, in any way whatever, convert the teachings of the Church into something easily understood and happily valued by everybody. The faith always keeps an aspect of the Cross, some obscurity that the firmness of one’s adherence does not take away. There are things that only are understood and valued from out of that adherence which is the sister of love, further than the clarity with which one can perceive reasons and arguments. By that, one can have room to remember that all teaching has situated itself in the evangelizing attitude, that wakes up the heart’s adherence, with its closeness, love, and witness.

43. In her constant discernment, the Church also can arrive at recognizing her own customs (not directly tied to the nucleus of the Gospel, some very rooted in her history) which now are not interpreted in the same way, and the message of which is not accustomed to be fittingly perceived. They could be beautiful, but now they do not lend the same service ordered to the transmission of the Gospel. Let us have no fear of revising them. In the same way, there are norms and ecclesial precepts which could have been very efficacious in other epochs, but which now do not have the same educative force as watercourses of life. St. Thomas Aquinas emphasized that the precepts given by Christ and the Apostles to the People of God “are the littlest ones.” (47) Citing St. Augustine, he warned that the precepts added by the Church afterward must be exercised with moderation, “in order not to make life burdensome for the faithful,” and to convert our religion into a slavery, when “the mercy of God wants us to be free.” (48) This warning, made back several centuries ago, has a tremendous currentness. It must be one of the criteria to consider at the hour of thinking up a reform of the Church and of preaching which really permits one to reach everybody.

44. On the other hand, a great many pastors, like all the faithful who would accompany their brethren in the faith, or on the road of opening to God, cannot forget that which the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches with such great clarity: “The imputability and the responsibility for an action can be diminished, or perhaps removed, by reason of ignorance, inadvertence, violence, fear, habits, disordered affections, and other psychic or social factors.” (49)

Therefore, without diminishing the value of the evangelic ideal, one must accompany with mercy and patience the possible stages of growth of persons who are going to build themselves day by day. (50) As to priests, I recall to them that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but a place of the Lord’s mercy, which stimulates us to do the possible good. A little step in the midst of great human limits can be more pleasing to God than the outwardly correct life of one who passes his days without confronting important difficulties. To everyone — one must reach the counsel and the stimulation of God’s salvific love, which works mysteriously in every person, beyond his defects and falls.

45. So we see that the evangelizing task moves itself among the limits of language and circumstances. It always manages to share the truth of the Gospel better in a fixed context, without renouncing the truth, the good, and the light which it could support when perfection is not possible. A missionary heart knows about these limits and makes itself “weak with the weak… all things for all people” (1 Cor. 9:22) It never shuts itself in, never retreats into its own safety, never opts for self-defensive rigidity. It knows that it itself has to grow in understanding the Gospel and in discernment of the tracks of the Spirit, and therefore it does not renounce the possible good, even though it runs the risk of dirtying itself in the road mud.


[42] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.

[43] Motu Proprio Socialium Scientiarum (1 January 1994): AAS 86 (1994), 209.

[44] Saint Thomas Aquinas noted that the multiplicity and variety “were the intention of the first agent”, who wished that “what each individual thing lacked in order to reflect the divine goodness would be made up for by other things”, since the Creator’s goodness “could not be fittingly reflected by just one creature” (S. Th., I, q. 47, a. 1). Consequently, we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships (cf. S. Th., I, q. 47, a. 2, ad 1; q. 47, a. 3). By analogy, we need to listen to and complement one another in our partial reception of reality and the Gospel.

[45] JOHN XXIII, Address for the Opening of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962): AAS 54 (1962), 792: “Est enim aliud ipsum depositum fidei, seu veritates, quae veneranda doctrina nostra continentur, aliud modus, quo eaedem enuntiantur”.

[46] JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), 19: AAS 87 (1995), 933.

[47] S. Th., I-II, q. 107, a. 4.

[48] Ibid.

[49] No. 1735

[50] Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 34: AAS 74 (1982), 123.

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Totally Unofficial Translation 7: “Evangelii Gaudium”

This one doesn’t have as many variances between a painfully literal translation and the official English one. But as always, significantly different bits from the official translation are bolded.

III. From the heart of the Gospel

34. If we attempt to transpose everything into the key of “missionary,” this also is valid as a way of sharing the message. In today’s world, with the speed of communications and the biased choice of content which make up the media, the message that we announce runs the risk, more than ever, of appearing mutilated, and reduced to some of its secondary aspects. As a result of that, some matters which form part of the Church’s moral teaching may remain outside of the context which gives them meaning. The greater problem is produced when the message which we announce therefore appears identified with those secondary aspects which, without ceasing to be important, do not manifest the heart of Jesus Christ’s message all by themselves. Therefore it suits us to be realists, and not to take it for granted that our interlocutors know the complete background of what we say, or that they can connect our discourse with the essential nucleus of the Gospel which grants it meaning, loveliness, and attractiveness.

35. A pastoral ministry in the key of “missionary” does not obsess itself over the disarticulated transmission of a multitude of doctrines which it intends to impose by force of insistence. When it takes on a pastoral objective and a missionary style which really reach everybody without exceptions or exclusions, the announcement concentrates itself on what is essential, what is more beautiful, what is bigger, what is more attractive, and at the same time, what is more necessary. The proposal simplifies itself without losing depth and truth by that; and so it turns itself more convincing and more radiant.

36. All the revealed truths proceed from the same divine fountain, and are believed with the same faith; but some of them are more important, by expressing the Gospel’s heart more directly. In this fundamental nucleus, that which shines forth resplendently is the beauty of the salvific love of God, manifested in Jesus Christ dead and come back to life. In this sense, the Vatican II Council explained that “there is an order or ‘hierarchy’ in the truths in Catholic doctrine, for by existing, the order diversifies their connection with the foundation of the Christian faith.” (38) This is valid as much for the dogmas of the faith as for the whole of the Church’s teachings, and perhaps for her moral teachings.

37. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that, in the Church’s moral message, there is also a hierarchy in the virtues, and in the acts which proceed from them. (39) There, what counts before everything else is “the faith which makes itself active through charity.” (Gal. 5:6) The works of love towards a neighbor are the most perfect outward manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit: “The principality of the new Law is in the grace of the Holy Spirit, which manifests itself in the faith which works through love.” (40) Through this, he explains that, so far as outward working, mercy is the greatest of all the virtues: “In itself, mercy is the greatest of the virtues, for already it belongs to her to pour herself into the others, and moreover, to succor their deficiencies. This is peculiar to the superior, and for that, it is held as characteristic of God to have mercy, in which His omnipotence shines resplendently in the greatest way.” (41)

38. It is important to grasp the pastoral consequences of the conciliar teaching, which picks up an ancient conviction of the Church. Before all, one must say that, in the announcement of the Gospel, it is necessary that there should be a fitting proportion. This makes itself noticeable in preaching, in the frequency with which some themes are mentioned, and in what the themes put stress on.

For example, if a parish priest throughout the liturgical year speaks ten times about moderation of drink, and only two or three times about charity or justice, he is producing a disproportion whereby he obscures in shadow precisely those virtues which must be more present in preaching and catechesis. The same thing happens if one speaks more about the law than grace, more about the Church than Jesus Christ, more about the Pope than the Word of God.

39. Even as the organic relationship among the virtues prevents excluding any one of them from the Christian ideal, so no truth is denied. One must not mutilate the integrity of the Gospel message. What is more, each truth is understood better if it is put into relation with the harmonious totality of the Christian message; and in that context, all the truths have their importance and illuminate one another. When preaching is faithful to the Gospel, it manifests with clarity the centrality of some truths, and it stays clear that Christian moral preaching is not the ethics of a Stoic; it is more than an asceticism; it is not a mere practical philosophy or a catalog of sins and errors. The Gospel invites us, before all, to respond to the loving God Who saves us, recognizing Him in everybody else, and going out of ourselves to search for everybody’s good.

That invitation must not be obscured in shadow, not under any circumstances! All the virtues are in the service of this answer of love. If that invitation does not shine out with force and attractiveness, the Church’s moral edifice runs the risk of being turned into a house of cards, and there lies our worst danger. Because it will not be properly the Gospel that is announced, but instead, some doctrinal or moral stresses which proceed from fixed ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and losing possession of “the smell of the Gospel.”


[38] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 11.

[39] Cf. S. Th., I-II, q. 66, a. 4-6.

[40] S. Th., I-II, q. 108, a. 1.

[41] S. Th., II-II, q. 30, a. 4: “We do not worship God with sacrifices and exterior gifts for him, but rather for us and for our neighbour. He has no need of our sacrifices, but he does ask that these be offered by us as devotion and for the benefit of our neighbour. For him, mercy, which overcomes the defects of our devotion and sacrifice, is the sacrifice which is most pleasing, because it is mercy which above all seeks the good of one’s neighbour” (S. Th., II-II, q. 30, a. 4, ad 1).

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Totally Unofficial Translation 6: Evangelii Gaudium

More unofficial, painfully literal translation. The bits which are significantly different from the original translation are bolded.

II. “A pastoral ministry for conversion”

25. I am not ignorant that today, documents don’t awaken the same interest as in other epochs, and are rapidly forgotten. Notwithstanding, I emphasize that what I have tried to express here does have a programmatic sense and important consequences. I hope that all communities would endeavor to put out the necessary means to advance down the road of a pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they are. A “simple administration” doesn’t serve us now. (21) Let us establish ourselves, in all the regions of the earth, in a “permanent state of mission.” (22)

26. Paul VI invited one to broaden the call to renewal, in order to express with force that it did not direct itself only to isolated individuals, but to the whole Church. Let us remember this memorable text which has not lost its imploring force: “The Church must deepen in her conscience of herself; she must meditate about the mystery that is her own… Out of this illumined and working conscience, a spontaneous desire wells up of comparing the Church’s ideal image — such that Christ came for her, longed for her, and loved her as His own holy and immaculate Bride (cf. Eph. 5:27) — and the real face that the Church presents today… A generous eagerness wells up, almost impatient for renewal — that is to say, for amendment of defects that the conscience denounces and reflects upon, in the mode of an interior examination, before the mirror of the model of Himself that Christ left for us.” (23)

The Vatican II Council presented the ecclesial conversion as the opening toward a constant reform of herself by faithfulness to Jesus Christ: “All the renewal of the Church consists essentially in an increase of faithfulness to her own vocation… Christ calls the pilgrim Church to a perennial reform of that which the same Church (insofar as its human and worldly institution) always has a need.” (24)

There are ecclesial structures which could arrive at the point of putting conditions on an evangelizing dynamism; equally, the good structures serve when there is a life that animates, sustains, and judges them. Without a new life and authentic evangelical spirit, without “faithfulness of the Church to her own vocation,” any new structure whatever will be corrupted in a short time.

An un-postponeable ecclesial renewal

27. I dream about a missionary option capable of transforming it all, so that the customs, styles, schedules, language, and all ecclesial structure convert themselves into a fitting watercourse for the evangelization of the present world, rather than for self-preservation. One can only understand in this sense the reform of structures which the pastoral conversion requires: to endeavor for them all to turn more missionary, so that the ordinary pastoral ministry in all its instances would be more expansive and open, that it would position pastoral workers in a constant attitude of going-out, and would so favor the positive answer of all those out there whom Jesus calls together to His friendship. As John Paul II said to the Bishops of Oceania, “all renewal in the bosom of the Church must tend toward the mission as an objective, in order not to fall victim to a species of ecclesial introversion.” (25)

28. The parish is not a senile structure; precisely because she has a great plasticity, she can take very diverse forms which demand the docility and the missionary creativity of the Pastor and of the community. Although certainly she’s not the only evangelizing institution, if she is capable of reforming itself and adapting itself continually, she will continue being “the same Church who lives within the houses of her sons and her daughters.” (26) This supposes that really, she would be in contact with the hearths and with the people’s life, and she does not convert herself into a tedious structure separated from the nation, or into a group of select people who look only to each other. The parish is an ecclesial presence in the territory, a sphere of listening to the Word, of the Christian life’s growth, of dialogue, of announcement, of generous charity, of adoration, and of celebration. (27) Behind all her activities, the parish nourishes and forms her members so that they may be agents of evangelization. (28) She is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty go to drink in order to continue walking the road, and a center of constant missionary sending-out. But we have to recognize that the call to the revision and renewal of the parishes still has not given sufficient fruits so that they would be located still closer to the nation, that they would be spheres of living communion and participation, and that they would orient themselves completely toward the mission.

29. All the other ecclesial institutions, basic communities and little communities, movements, and other forms of association, are the Church’s wealth, which the Spirit stirs up in order to evangelize all atmospheres and sectors. Many times, they support a new evangelizing fervor and a capacity for dialogue with the world, things which renew the Church. But it is very healthy that they should not forget the contact with that reality, so rich, of the parish of a place, and that they should integrate themselves pleasantly into the organic pastoral ministry of the particular Church. (29) This integration will avert them staying with only one part of the Gospel and the Church, or turning into nomads without roots.

30. Each particular Church, a portion of the Catholic Church under the guidance of her bishop, is called to the missionary conversion too. She is the primary subject of evangelization (30), for already she is the concrete manifestation of the unique Church in one place in the world, and in her “truly is located and is working the Church of Christ, the Church who is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” (31) She is the Church incarnated into a fixed space, provided with all the means of salvation given by Christ, but with a local face. Her joy from sharing Jesus Christ expresses itself as much in her concern to announce it in other, needier places, as in a constant going-out to the peripheries of her own territory or into new sociocultural spheres. (32) She endeavors always to be out where the light and the life of the Resurrection are in shorter supply. (33) In order that this missionary impulse might be more intense, generous, and fecund each time, I also exhort each particular Church to enter into a process decided by discernment, purification, and reform.

31. The bishop always must foment the missionary communion in his diocesan Church, continuing the ideal of the first Christian communities, where the believers had only one heart and one mind (cf. Acts. 4:32). In order to do that, at times he will be out in front to point out the road and to take care of the people’s hope; other times, he will be simply in the midst of everyone, with his simple and merciful nearness; and on occasion, he will have to walk down the road behind the people, in order to help the stragglers and above all, because the flock has its own sense of smell for finding new roads.

In his mission to foment a dynamic, open, and missionary communion, he will have to encourage and manage the maturation of the mechanisms of participation which the Code of Canon Law (34) and other forms of pastoral dialogue propose, with the desire of listening to everyone and not just to those who tickle his ears. But the objective of these participative processes will not principally be the ecclesial organization, but the missionary dream of reaching everyone.

32. Given that I am called to live that which I ask of everybody else, I must also think about a conversion of the papacy. It behooves me, as Bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which orient themselves to an exercise of my ministry that becomes more faithful to the meaning that Jesus wanted to give it, and to the current needs of evangelization. Pope John Paul II asked that he be helped to find “a form of exercise of the primacy that, without renouncing in any way that which is essential to its mission, opens it up to a new situation.” (35) We have advanced little, in that sense. Also, the papacy and the central structures of the Church Universal need to listen to the call to a pastoral conversion. The Vatican II Council expressed that, in a mode analogous to the ancient patriarchal Churches, the episcopal conferences can “develop a multiple and fecund work, to the end that collegial affection may have a concrete application.” (36) But this desire has not been fully made real, inasmuch as it still has not sufficiently explicated a statute of the episcopal conferences that would conceive them as subjects of concrete attributions, also including some authentic doctrinal authority. (37) An excessive centralization complicates the life of the Church and her missionary dynamic, more than it helps.

33. The pastoral ministry in the mission key, tries to abandon the comfortable pastoral criterion of “we’ve always done it this way.” I invite everybody to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the objectives, the structures, the style, and the evangelizing methods of their own communities. A postulation of the ends without a fitting community search for the means to advance them is condemned to convert itself into a mere fantasy. I exhort everyone to apply the orientations of this document with generosity and courage, without prohibitions or fears. What is important is not to walk down the road alone, to rely always on the brethren (and especially on the guidance of the bishops), in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment.



[22] Ibid., 551.

[23] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam (6 August 1964), 9, 10, 11: AAS 56 (1964), 611-612.

[24]SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 6.

[25] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania (22 November 2001), 19: AAS 94 (2002), 390.

[26] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 September 1988), 26: AAS 81 (1989), 438.

[27] Cf. Propositio 26.

[28] Cf. Propositio 44.

[29] Cf. Propositio 26.

[30] Cf. Propositio 41.

[31] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops Christus Dominus, 11.

[32] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Address for the Fortieth Anniversary of the Decree Ad Gentes (11 March 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 337.

[33] Cf. Propositio 42.

[34] Cf. Canons 460-468; 492-502; 511-514; 536-537.

[35] Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), 95: AAS 87 (1995), 977-978.

[36] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIl, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 23.

[37] JOHN PAUL II, Motu Proprio Apostolos Suos (21 May 1998): AAS 90 (1998), 641-658.

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Totally Unofficial Translation 5: Evangelii Gaudium

More literal translation. Parts significantly different from the official translation are bolded.

Chapter 1: The Missionary Transformation of the Church

19. Evangelization obeys Jesus’ missionary mandate: “Go, you all, and make all the peoples be My disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you all.” (Mt. 28:19-20) In these verses, the moment is presented at which the Resurrected One sends those who are His own to preach the Gospel in all times and throughout all regions, in such a way that faith in Him might diffuse itself into every corner of the earth.

I. A Church on an outward-bound journey

20. In the Word of God, this dynamism of “going out” that God wants to make happen in the believers appears constantly. Abraham accepted the call to go out to a new land (cf. Gen. 12:1-3). Moses listened to God’s call, “Go, I send you” (Ex. 3:10); and he took the people out to the Land of the Promise (cf. Ex. 3:17). To Jeremiah, He said this: “You shall go wherever I will send you.” (Jer. 1:7) Today, in this “Go, you all,” of Jesus, there are present the ever-new stage sets and challenges of the Church’s evangelizing mission, and all are called to this new missionary journey “going out.” Each Christian and each community will discern which road the Lord asks of him, but all are invited to accept this call: to go out from one’s own comfort, and to dare to reach all those places, on the periphery of things, that need the light of the Gospel.

21. The joy of the Gospel that fills the life of the community of the disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples who return from the mission full of rejoicing (cf. Lk. 10:17) experience it. Jesus, Who trembles with rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, and praises the Father because His revelation reaches the poor and the little ones, lives it (cf. 10:21). The first ones who converted on listening to the Apostles preaching “each one in his own tongue” (Acts 2:6) on Pentecost feel full of wonder. That joy is a sign of how the Gospel has been announced and is giving fruit. But always there is the dynamic of an exodus and of a gift, of going out from oneself, of walking down a road, and of sowing, always anew, always further on out. The Lord says, “Let us go to another region, to preach to the neighboring populations also, because it is for this that I have gone out.” (Mk. 1:38) When He has sown the seed in one place, then He does not linger to explain better or to do more signs there; but instead, the Spirit moves Him to go out to other towns.

22. The Word holds within itself a potentiality that we cannot predict. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, also grows by itself when the farmer sleeps (cf. Mk. 4:26-29). The Church must accept that unmoorable liberty of the Word, which is efficacious in its own manner, and in very diverse forms which are accustomed to surpass our foreseeings and break our schematics.

23. The intimacy of the Church with Jesus is an itinerant intimacy, and the communion “essentially configures itself as a missionary communion.” (20) Faithful to the Master’s model, it is vital that today the Church goes out to announce the Gospel to all people in all places, without delay, without disgust, and without fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all the people; it cannot exclude anyone. As the angel announces it to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “Fear not, for I bring to you all the Good News, a great joy for all the people.” (Lk. 2:10) The Book of Revelation refers to “one Good News, the eternal one, the one which must be announced to all the inhabitants of the earth, to every nation, family, tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6)

To grab the initiative, to get oneself involved, to accompany, to bear fruit, and to hold a fiesta.

24. The outward-bound Church is the community of missionary disciples who grab the initiative, who get themselves involved, who accompany, who bear fruit, and who hold a fiesta.

“Primerear” — “To aggressively grab the initiative and not let it go” — you should all excuse the neologism. The evangelizing community experiences how the Lord took the initiative; He has grabbed the initiative in His love for her (cf. 1 Jn. 4:10); and from that, she knows to go forward, to take the initiative without fear, to go out to the meeting, to search for those far off, and to go out to the crossroads to invite the excluded. She lives an inexhaustible desire of proffering mercy, the fruit of having experienced the Father’s infinite mercy and its diffusive force.

Let’s dare to grab the initiative a little more!

Consequently, the Church knows how to get herself involved. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. The Lord involved Himself, and involved those who were His own, putting Himself on His knees in front of everyone else, in order to wash their feet. But then He says to the disciples, “You will be blessed if you do this.” (Jn. 13:17) The evangelizing community enters into the daily life of everybody else by works and gestures; she diminishes distances; she lowers itself to the point of humiliation, if necessary; or she takes on human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in the people. So the evangelizers have “the smell of the sheep,” and these sheep hear His voice.

Then the evangelizing community prepares herself to accompany. She accompanies humanity in all its trials, throughout whatever harder or more prolonged trials that there may be. She knows about long waits and apostolic putting up with suffering. Evangelization has much of patience, and shuns abusing one’s limits.

Faithful to the Lord’s gift, she also knows how to bear fruit. The evangelizing community always is attentive to her fruits, because the Lord wants her to be fecund. She cares for the wheat and she doesn’t lose her peace over the tares. When he sees the tares shooting up in the midst of the wheat, the sower does not have whiny or alarmist reactions. One finds the way that the Word might incarnate Himself in a particular situation and might give fruits of new life, even though in appearance the fruits might be imperfect or unfinished. The disciple knows how to give his whole life, and to gamble it to the point of martyrdom, as a testimony about Jesus Christ; but his dream is not to get himself plenty of enemies, but that the Word would be welcomed and would manifest its liberating and renewing potency.

Finally, the evangelizing, rejoicing community always knows how “to hold a fiesta”. She celebrates and holds a fiesta for every little victory, every step forward into evangelization. The rejoicing evangelization turns herself into a beauty in the liturgy, in the midst of the daily demand of spreading the good. The Church evangelizes, and evangelizes herself, with the liturgy’s beauty, which also is a celebration of the evangelizing activity, and a fountain of a renewed donative impulse.


[20] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 32: AAS 81 (1989) 451.

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