Part 10: Unofficial Translation of Evangelii Gaudium

As always, boldface means something translated differently than the official version.

Chapter 2: On the Crisis of Community Commitment.

50. Before speaking about some fundamental questions related to evangelical action, it is suitable to recall briefly what the context is in which it touches us in living and acting. Today one is accustomed to speak of an “excess of diagnosis” which is not always accompanied by improved and actually applicable proposals. On the other hand, neither would a purely sociological viewpoint that would have pretensions of encompassing all reality with its methodology, supposedly of a neutral and aseptic manner. What I want to offer goes better along the line of an “evangelical discernment.” It is the missionary disciple’s viewpoint, which is “nourished on the light, and with the strength, of the Holy Spirit.”

51. It is not the Pope’s function to offer a detailed and complete analysis about [our] contemporaneous reality, but I encourage
all communities toward an “ever-vigilant capacity to study the signs of the times.” [54] One already deals with a grave responsibility, for if some realities of the present do not have a good result, they could unleash processes of dehumanization that will be hard to reverse further on. It is essential to clarify that which could be a fruit of the Kingdom and also that which is bent on being against God’s plan. This involves not only recognizing and interpreting the motions of the good spirit and of the evil one, but also — and here is rooted what is decisive — choosing those of the good spirit and rejecting those of the evil. I give as examples those diverse [motions] of which other documents of the universal Magisterium have offered analysis, such as those which the regional and national episcopates [bishops’ conferences] have proposed. In this Exhortation, I only intend to pause briefly, with a pastoral viewpoint, at some aspects of reality that can stop or debilitate the dynamisms of the missionary renovation of the Church: be it because they affect the life and dignity of the People of God, [or] be it because they also bear upon subjects which participate in a more direct mode in ecclesial institutions and in evangelizing tasks.

I. Some challenges of the present world.

52. Humanity at this moment lives through a historic turn that we can see in the progresses which are produced in diverse fields. The advances which contribute to the wellbeing of the people are to be praised; as for example, in the area of health, education, and communication. Without a doubt, it is not to be forgotten by us that the majority of men and women of our time live precariously from day to day, with dire consequences. Some pathologies go on the increase. Fear and desperation will take possession of the hearts of numerous persons, including those in the countries called “rich.” The happiness of living is frequently snuffed out; lack of respect and violence increase; unfairness is more patent each time. One must fight to live, and often, to live with little dignity. This change of epoch has generated itself by the enormous leaps — qualitative, quantitative, accelerative, and cumulative — which occur in scientific development, in technological innovations, and in their swift applications in distinct fields of nature and life. We are in the era of knowledge and information, a fount of new forms of power, and many times, of an anonymous power.

“Thou shalt not” to an economy of throwing away.

53. Even as the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill” puts a clear limit in order to secure the value of human life, today we have to say, “Thou shalt not” to an economy of throwing away and unfairness. This economy kills. It cannot be that it not be news that an old person in a situation on the street dies of cold; and that yes, it be [news] if there be a fall of two points on the stock market. This is throwing away. One cannot tolerate it anymore that one throws out food when there are people who endure hunger. This is unfairness. Today, it all enters into the game of competitiveness and of the law of the stronger, where the powerful eat the weaker. As a consequence of this situation, big masses of the population will be left excluded and marginalized: without work, without horizons, without a way out. One considers a human being in himself as a consumption good, which one can use and then throw out. We have given a start to a culture of “discard,” which also is promoted by itself. Already, one does not deal simply with a phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but also with something new: with [this] throwing away, membership in the society in which one lives remains affected by its same root, yet already one is not in [society]; [not] a throwing away [which is] outside, on the periphery, or without power, but a throwing away which is inside. The thrown-away ones are not “exploited,” but rubbish, “surplus.”

54. In this context, some still defend the theories of “overflow” [trickle-down] which suppose that all economic growth, favored by the liberty of the market, manages all by itself to bring about greater fairness and social
in the world. This opinion expresses a rough and ingenuous confidence in the goodness of those who hold onto the economic power, and in the sacralized mechanisms of a reigning economic system, which never has been confirmed by their deeds. Meanwhile, the thrown-away ones continue hoping. For the power to sustain a style of life which throws away others, or for the power to enthuse oneself over this egoist ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed itself. Almost without meaning it, we turn incapable of feeling sorry for the cry of others; we already do not cry for the drama of the rest, nor does it interest us to care for them; as if everyone outside is somebody else’s responsibility which is not incumbent upon us. The culture of wellbeing anesthetizes us and we lose our cool if the market offers something that we have not bought yet; meanwhile those lives, truncated by a lack of possibilities, appear a mere spectacle to us which does not alter us in any way.

53: John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992), 10: AAS 84 (1992), 673.

54: Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam (6 August 1964), 19: AAS 56 (1964), 609.

55: Saint John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio, II, 6: PG 48, 992D.


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