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.

FOOTNOTES:

[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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