Published today the Vatican releases the new encyclical by His Holiness the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel). The Pope’s first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” released in July, was essentially the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to whose words Pope Francis had merely “added a few contributions” of his own. The encyclical was originally begun by Pope Benedict in order to commemorate the Year of Faith and to complete a trilogy of encyclicals he had been writing on the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and charity. The preceding two were “Deus Caritas Est“, on the theological virtue of charity, and “Spe Salvi“, on the virtue of hope.
“Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) is all the present Pope’s own writing however and thus properly his authorial debut. The holy Father had informed the recent Synod of Bishops that he would write an “exhortation on evangelization in general and refer to the synod,” in order to “take everything from the synod but put it in a wider framework.”
In the opening titles and sentences, Pope Francis focuses on the inherent “joy of the Gospel” that should exist in the hearts of all Christians and continues to exhort Christians to “… lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!” The encyclical goes on to cover such topics as “The social dimension of evangelization“, “The inclusion of poor in society” “Social dialogue as a contribution to peace” as the Pope addresses and puts evangelization at the heart of addressing contemporary issues both for the Church and for the world, touching on social policy and ecumenism as well as Christian witness. A full copy can be found on the Vatican website here.