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.”

FOOTNOTES:

[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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