The "duty" to evangelize

From the beginning of his pontificate, Paul VI, and now Pope Francis, have emphasized the inherent duty of every baptized person to be, with his or her life, a witness to Christ before his or her brothers and sisters.

María Teresa Compte Grau-September 5, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

Pope Francis' catechesis during the General Audience on March 22 was dedicated to evangelization.

The guiding thread was the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8-12-1975), which Pope Francis has called "the great charter of evangelization in the contemporary world. With this Exhortation, published one year after the celebration of the ordinary General Assembly of the Synod, Pope Montini also commemorated the tenth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II, and brought the Holy Year of 1975 to a close with a flourish.

Evangelization had been a central theme in the pontificate of Paul VI. His first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam (6-8-1964), had already focused on the Church's mandate in the contemporary world. A mandate that is missionary in nature and that manifests itself, the Pope stressed, in diffusion, offering and proclamation (cf. ES 32).

It is a dutyPaul VI wrote in 1975, the duty to evangelize in fidelity to the message "of which we are the servants and to the people to whom we must transmit it intact and alive" (EN 4).

In order to better fulfill this duty, the Church had to pause to reflect seriously and profoundly on her ability to proclaim the Gospel and insert it into the heart of man. The itinerary had its stations marked out:

First of all, Jesus.

Secondly, the Kingdom of God.

Then, the attentive reading of the origins of the Church and the rediscovery of its evangelizing vocation.

And all this in order to "reach and transform with the power of the Gospel the criteria of judgment, the determining values, the points of interest, the lines of thought, the inspirational sources and the models of life of humanity, which are in contrast with the word of God and with the plan of salvation" (EN 19).

Nothing like witness, wrote the Pope in 1975, duly accompanied by the explicit proclamation of what is central to the Christian faith: God's salvation and liberation in Jesus Christ.

Then would come the means, necessarily adequate and duly ordered to the end, which is none other than to reveal Jesus Christ and his Gospel to all, and to do so in a communitarian way and in the name of the Church. "Men can be saved by other means, thanks to the mercy of God, if we do not proclaim the Gospel to them; but can we save ourselves if, through negligence, fear, shame... or false ideas, we fail to proclaim it? (EN 80).

The authorMaría Teresa Compte Grau

Master's Degree in Social Doctrine of the Church

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