“Evangelii Gaudium”: offering help and guidance on the path towards global justice
Pope Francis puts the poor and the vulnerable at the heart of his first Apostolic Exhortation.
“Evangelii Gaudium” – “The Joy of the Gospel” – published in November, encourages Christians to embark upon “a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come. In the document, Pope Francis calls on Church, economy and society to go through profound changes, and he questions the dominant economic paradigm of growth and consumption. Across the globe and from all walks of life, people have reacted to the document, both in its entirety and focusing on single sections, according to their particular interest or field of action. Bernd Nilles is the Secretary General of CIDSE, the International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies. He told Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni that “Evangelii Gaudium” is a milestone document and it will offer help and guidance to CIDSE and to all people of good will in its efforts towards global justice and a paradigm shift towards fair and sustainable societies…
Nilles says his first reaction was and is that is a milestone document: “It’s the first paper he really published and wrote on his own and it gives important guidance”. “For us as Catholic Development organizations – who are mainly understood as Catholic lay organizations – it’s an important document because the Holy Father is really highlighting the importance of the laity, he fully understands that we are not living and working in a bubble, we are really exposed to the daily lives of ordinary people, we are working with many secular groups”. Nilles says that “there is a big change coming in that in the past, our Church was sometimes too suspicious of working with those who do not necessarily share all the beliefs the Church has. And I think he is really inviting us to work with others, to work also with those who maybe have a different understanding of society, who are non- believers”. And commenting on the Pope’s assertion that “lay people are the vast majority of God’s people”, Nilles says that many lay organizations work with this vast majority. He says “we work with parishes, with many volunteers who are engaged in justice issues, but we also work with many women’s organizations and organizations that have a strong understanding of what gender equality means”. He points out that “in the Church there are people who are a bit suspicious about their approaches but we fully understand that if we want to empower women, if we want to give women equal share of resources and roles in society, we need to work with these concepts and we need to be open-minded”. Nilles says that in his opinion the Holy Father has added a very important dimension to “working with the poor, working with lay people. He refers to it as subsidiarity, which is a core principle of Catholic Social teaching, but he links to decentralization. And if you read his paper, you see a lot of quotes, a lot of sources: he refers to National and Continental Bishops’ Conferences and this – he says – is really new. “This is a strong indicator that the Holy Father really wants to listen to what’s going on on the ground…”
You can listen to the full interview here
Text originally published by the Vatican Radio