It is his first apostolic exhortation, and it is devoted to the theme of the new evangelization.
Here are 9 things to know and share . . .
1) What does “Evangelii Gaudium” mean?
It’s Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.”
2) What is an apostolic exhortation?
It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.
Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.
Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas). Others are devoted to particular themes.
Previous apostolic exhortations include:
- Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)
- John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (on the role of the laity)
- John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos (on St. Joseph)
- Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)
- Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (on the Word of God)
3) How much authority does an apostolic exhortation have?
It is one of the more important papal documents—more important, for example, than a Wednesday audience or a homily.
As it is of a pastoral nature rather than a doctrinal or legal nature, though, it is ranked lower than an encyclical or an apostolic constitution.
As with everything official that the pope writes, it is to be taken very seriously.
4) What leads a pope to write an apostolic exhortation?