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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