Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has welcomed the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’:
“This Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world is a challenge to everyone, without exception.
“Pope Francis’ words are full of the ‘Joy of the Gospel’, the Exhortation’s very title. They are marked throughout by the immediacy of the Holy Father’s character and by the profound compassion which shines through all his actions.
“This is a papal document with a difference. In it the Pope speaks of his ‘dream’ (27) and shares a humorous comment (135). But, at another level, it presents a searching examination of conscience for everyone who seeks to be a follower of Christ and for everyone who claims to have the good of society at heart. No one escapes its penetrating questions.
“Yet these questions arise not from a burden of guilt but from a joyful heart, a generous heart which, expanded by God’s merciful grace (142), seeks to liberate and renew (24). The document is an exhortation to all of humanity to let our hearts be taken up into the very heart of God (178).
“It presents a vision for the pattern of life of the Church present throughout the world, for parish life, for the work of the preacher, for the catechist, for the bishop, for the business person and the politician and for the ministry of the Pope himself. It contains a radical look at the crisis of poverty in our world and at the role of economics. It offers a new light on the Church’s social teaching and calls for dialogue between faith, reason and science, with our fellow Christians, with the Jewish community, with other religions and with society, especially in the context of religious freedom.
“Indeed a spirit of freedom permeates this text as does the constant call for everyone to enter into the mercy of God and to offer that same mercy and compassion to others without reserve.
“Pope Francis proclaims that by baptism we are called to be missionary disciples and that the spirit of our calling springs from this conviction: ‘We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by infinite love.’ (265)
“This Apostolic Exhortation lays out the enterprise which lies ahead of us all. It is inspiring and presents some of the challenges faced by our world today for ‘a Church without frontiers’ (210).”