A Dogmatic Theological Appreciation of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium

A Dogmatic Theological Appreciation of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel, of the Holy Father Francis. The Indispensable Place of Theological Foundations for a Solid Pastoral Planning and Execution
1       Introduction:
Dogmatic theology has been defined as a theological discipline dealing with the scientific exposition (in an organic form and with a systematic unity) of the entire theoretical doctrine concerning God himself and his external activity based on the dogmas of the Church.[1] It deals with supernatural truths and facts concerning Salvation and the content of Revelation.[2] It can also be said to be

the reasoned and methodic exposition of the reality, the presuppositions and the consequences of the self-communication of the triune God in Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind as such self-communication is expressed in the instruments of ecclesial confession of faith (= dogmata, dogma).[3]
Muller asserts that “it examines the consistency and coherence of the various affirmations of the faith which springs from the unique foundation of the Revelation of God as Father of Jesus Christ and of the Revelation of his Son (1Cor. 15:1; Gal. 1:11).”[4] So today, the term dogma refers to the totality of the Christian faith in the confession and practice of the Church. By way of method, the dogmatic theologian concerns himself with deriving the dogmas of the Church from the sources of faith and explaining them. In doing this, he is occupied with positive theology. In the speculative dimension, dogmatic theology shows that the mysteries of faith, though beyond reason, are not contrary to its laws but can be accepted by our intellect. We try to explain them. Faith seeks understanding.
The dogmatic content of such a discipline includes God, the creator, the Triune God or the Trinity, the Creation, Soteriology, Redemption, Pneumatology, Mariology, Grace, Sacraments and Eschatology (De Novissimus). Some may add Regnology {theology of the kingdom}, Angelology and Theological Anthropology. It looks at the hierarchy of truths with primary truths (e.g., Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption) differentiated from subordinate truths – means of salvation, Church, sacraments, apostolic tradition.
Therefore, a dogmatic theological reading of the document will be looking at an organic synthesis of the doctrines of the faith in the document. It will examine the consistency of the appeal to the source of faith, the Revelation of the One and Triune God as witnessed in the two channels of the word of God, the Scripture and Tradition; the reference to the Church’s earlier Magisterium and the consistency of the doctrines enunciated with the full deposit of the faith as to content.
2        The Nature of the Document
This is the very first thing we consider. The document is an apostolic exhortation.  This means that it is a communication from the Pope which encourages a community to undertake a particular activity. It is higher in authority than ordinary letters written by popes but is lower than encyclicals. It is not intended to define doctrine. An encyclical is a letter treating some aspect of doctrine. In Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII makes it clear that an encyclical may express something that belongs to Catholic doctrine and theologians may not continue to debate on an issue when once the pope has expressed a position on it in an encyclical.
The Evangelii Gaudium – the Joy of the Gospel is, therefore, the Pope’s Exhortation on the Church’s primary mission of Evangelization or proclamation of the Gospel in the present time, i.e., in today’s world. It was issued on the 24 November, the feast of Christ the King 2013, at the end of the year of faith following the work of the synod on the New Evangelization.[5] It contains the word love 213 times; joy, 109 times; the poor, 91 times; peace, 58 times; justice 37 times and common good 15 times. These are the themes and terms that interest the current social mediatic world the more.
A dogmatic glance will rather reveal the words and themes such as God (290 times), the Triune God (once), the creator (2 times), the Creation (10 times), Soteriology, Redemption (3 times), Mary (i.e., Mariology), Grace (27 times), Sacraments (17 times) and Eschatology [De Novissimus (once)]. Some may add Regnology {theology of the kingdom (21times)}, Angelology, Theological Anthropology (indirectly 302 times), the Trinity, the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, Synods and related dogmatic theological concepts. There are several scriptural citations from which the Exhortation deeply draws and which irrigate every terrain of the entire geographical space of the Exhortation. In fact, though the work is principally on evangelization, the Pope states unambiguously that “the sacred scriptures are the very source of evangelization.”[6]
The Exhortation consists of an Introduction and Five Chapters. Each of the chapters directly deals with some aspect of Evangelization. Apart from the introductory chapter which expresses all the various forms and moments of joy in living out faith as is recorded in the Scripture, in chapter one already,  the Pope shows himself as both open to novelty and primarily faithful to tradition. In calling every other dimension of the Church to conversion and renewal, he insists that the papacy too must adhere to this. In that context, he launches this invitation
It is my duty, as the bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.[7]
This is the same as John Paul II’s invitation to find a way of exercising the primacy which while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. The Pope himself quotes this invitation. This shows that inasmuch as the Pope wants to adopt new strategies for the promotion of evangelization in the present time, all the more, he would like to be faithful to the rightful exercise of the petrine ministry which he understands to be of divine institution as is very clear in the invitation.
In the second chapter, he identifies the challenges facing evangelization today. They are of economic nature. They also generate poverty. So, he as well exposes and attacks Gnosticism and neo-pelagianism.
The third chapter on the proclamation of the gospel identifies some important and necessary dialogues like that between faith and reason and that between the ecumenical and the inter-religious dialogues. He holds a clear dogmatic position on the faith we share with Judaism. The fourth chapter continues the theme while the last chapter is pneumatological, Christological and mariological.
The exhortation is addressed to the Bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. So, from the point of view of the addressees, it is clear that the document is primarily ecclesiological. 
3         Theological Foundations for the Exhortation
The joy of the gospel that fills the hearts of those who encounter Jesus[8] is the primary content and driving force of the whole encyclical. It delineates new paths and new ways forward for the church in the next years. So, it strikes one that the exhortation opens with an explicit presentation of the person of Jesus and the consequence of the encounter with him, namely salvation. These two themes in the very first number provide Christological and soteriological motives for the whole corpus that follow. These same motives continue in the identification of the ills of today which deprive man of joy and which contradict life in the Spirit and life that has its source in Christ. This Christological intention is emphasized in the subsequent invitation “to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.” This is on the biblical theological basis that the Lord never tires to forgive (cf. Mt. 18:22) and that “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”[9]
The veracity of the salvific and revelatory character of the Old Testament and the Prophets are taken for granted. Here biblical quotations from as wide a range as Isaiah, Ezechiel, Zephaniah, and Sirach refer to the Lord, the Messiah and to the creation. The fourth and fifth numbers of the exhortation are like a river of joy flowing from two streams of unending Old Testament and New Testament citations. The whole joy about which the whole exhortation radiates has its source and foundation in the infinite word of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.[10] This word to be understood properly would have always to be related “to the teaching of the entire Bible as handed on by the Church.”[11] In that way, the principle of the inspiration of the whole Bible by the Holy Spirit is acknowledged and respected.
 Pope Francis is generally acknowledged to be simple in speech and attitude and easy to read in his writings. On the other hand, theology is often speculative and contemplative and not so easy to follow by the lay man. Yet Evangelii Gaudium is praised for its simple style and accessibility to the understanding of the common man in the street. Does that mean that it is devoid of theology? Evidently, theology is a speculative and contemplative science. Yet Pope Francis appears to keep himself away from speculation. This is not so much because of his not speculating or contemplating. He does. And he does it well too. This owes rather to the fact that he does it so well and so effortlessly that the ordinary man is carried along. He is very attentive to the how of his communication. We understand this from his own attitude when he advises others on homiletic resources:
Some people think they can be good preachers because they know what ought to be said, but they do not pay attention to how it should be said, that is, the concrete way of constructing a sermon… In the Bible, for example, we can find advice on how to prepare a homily so as to best preach to people: “speak concisely, say much in few words” (Sir. 32: 8)[12]
Both this attitude of attention to how and the establishment of the foundation for it in the Scripture are profoundly theological attitudes. Speculation is the application of a rigorous critical method to the object of thought so as to attain the deepest depths and the highest possible heights in the comprehension of the object’s various dimensions. So, the Pope both speculates and contemplates on the mysteries of faith from which he draws the exhortations on the practical need to evangelize. He only consciously does it very well. He states that:
Today’s vast cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness. “The deposit of the faith is one thing… the way it is expressed is another.”[13]
The fact that he has the idea of this attentive methodology and that he intentionally founds it on another recent magisterial authority, which is that of Pope John XIII at the opening of the Council, places the methodology itself in a dogmatic theological sphere. The whole edifice of the exhortation, therefore, stands on dogmatic theological foundations.
Christ, named as the “eternal gospel” in this document is the heart of the message of evangelization.[14] Here Jesus is named as “the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person.”[15] He is our peace. He is Lord. These all serve as foundations for the various praxes that the Pope proposes. These are products of contemplation. He speculates on the beauty, the profundity, the richness, wisdom and knowledge of God (Rm. 11: 33). In fact, the Pope states that authentic love – from which the desire to evangelize flows – is always contemplative.[16] And then to carry out the task of the new evangelization and authentic love which is very important, the Pope exhorts all to recuperate the contemplative spirit. Without that, it is not possible to appreciate the text of the scriptures well enough. This is like telling Christians in simple words to adopt theological minds. Even in their prayers, this contemplation must be an intrinsic element.[17]
In more explicit terms the Pope recognizes the place of “theology – and not simply a pastoral theology – which is in dialogue with other sciences and human experiences,” as most important for our discernment on how best to bring the Gospel message to different cultural contexts and groups. He appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts which he states must exist to evangelize.[18] So, Evangelization draws from the product of theology and theology exists for evangelization. But the Pope following the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[19] warns as well that we should not be concerned simply about falling into doctrinal error, but about remaining faithful to the Gospel path of life and Wisdom. The key criterion of authenticity in that case remains charity. [20]
Apart from the requirement for contemplation in contemporary period, theology is itself produced from this reflection. Dogmatic theology nourishes itself on the deposit of the faith from ancient times till date. This means that it implies the memory. And the pope describes the believer as “essentially one who remembers.”[21] In the newness which the Pope is advocating, the whole history of the Church is to be carried along if it is to be faithful. And in this context, the Eucharist becomes a privileged moment of memorial.
The initiative to carry out mission or evangelization is God’s, says the Pope. He alone grants growth. That is a dogmatic point that touches on grace. The numerous mentions of synods and citing them – is not only an indication of a carrying along of tradition but strongly underlines the Unity and Catholicity of the whole Church spread throughout the world.
The dimensions of Evangelization delineated are very important. The pope states that settings where evangelization is carried out include those active in the Church – ordinary pastoral ministry, the baptized but not practicing and those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. He cites Pope John Paul II[22] who insists that the impetus to preach to those far from Christ must not reduce. To do this he prefers to proceed through a sound ‘decentralization’. He sees it as opportune that he should not substitute the local episcopate. He would like them to resolve the problems in their specific territories and therefore, he goes ahead to discuss the issues he does, based on the teachings in the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium.[23] All these provide solid foundations for the discussion of the questions which the Pope confronts in the Exhortation. This will give rise to various theological dimensions of the document.
4       Dogmatic Parameters in Evangelii Gaudium
The free assertion of positions from Scriptures without reference to exegetical discrepancies or scholarship differences over such passages in the authors indicates a simple basic acceptance of the Scriptural word by the Pope in faith as authentic words of Christ. This attitude runs through the whole document. Christ’s words are quoted and consequences of the implications of those words drawn. This is done in such a way that a non-expert has no reason at all to think that there could be an alternative formulation to the source passage. Few among the several examples of this include the acceptance of the missionary mandate of Jesus (Mt. 28:19-20), [24]  the various occasions of joy expressed including when the first converts marveled to hear the apostles preach “in the native language of each” (Acts 2: 6) and the proclamation of the angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people” (Lk. 2: 10). One sees, in the document, a basic acceptance of God’s word as the rule of life (regulae vitae).
A series of references to the Popes: Benedict XVI,[25] John Paul II and Paul VI[26] and to the Vatican II[27] are all clear references to an ecclesiology sensitive to and in consonance with Papal and conciliar Magisterium.[28]
Another very important dogmatic category is that of the parish Church as a real church. There is a liberty and an impulse granted to the pastor for a missionary creativity which demands attention. If it proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters.”[29] This is an important concept for a renewed ecclesiology.
This makes the Holy Father to call for the conversion of the local, parish, diocesan and universal Church. He even calls for a conversion of the Papacy.[30] These are all aimed at succeeding with the missionary dream of the gospel reaching everyone. For this he launches his own invitation to a reform of the papacy and quotes John Paul II who had earlier done the same.[31] However, the Pope regrets that the conferences do not yet have the status that grants them authentic doctrinal authority. In spite of this, he quotes synods from every continent of the globe. [32]  He further invites all to abandon the comfortable criterion that ‘it has always been done like this’ in order to venture into new areas without halts or fears.[33]
The pope refers to identifying the core message of the gospel and its understanding but in such a way that the message is not fragmented. Proclamation has to concentrate on the most beautiful, the most attractive, the most necessary. But since all revealed truths flow from the same divine source, the evangelizer must be attentive to the hierarchy of truths. Here the dogmas of faith are explicitly mentioned and the dogmatic reflections of St. Thomas Aquinas are copiously quoted.[34] Thus the pastoral action is to flow in direct consequence of the conciliar teaching on the hierarchy of truth. This means that outside the very core matters and precepts handed down directly by Christ and his apostles which “are very few,” a certain level of flexibility and moderation is required for the benefit of reaching everyone with the gospel – the most essential things.[35]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church[36] comes to the aid of teaching on the imputability of moral actions. From these, the pastoral consequences of the doctrine of the sacraments are examined. The Church’s understanding of the criteria for the administration of the sacraments especially baptism and Eucharist are examined. The perspectives of examining these are quite pastoral but the reasons behind the perspective are quite more than pastoral.[37] The Pope states:
I take for granted the different analyses which the other documents of the universal magisterium have offered, as well as those proposed by the regional and national conferences of bishops. In this exhortation, I claim only to examine briefly and from a pastoral perspective…[38]
5      Dogmatic theological Concepts in interpretative key in the Evangelii Gaudium
It is interesting to notice the direct mention of dogmatic theological themes. To emphasize, for instance, how the ideal Christian has to live in an authentic way overcoming suspicion and permanent mistrust, the pope makes recourse to a number of principles to elucidate his point.
5.1      The Trinity
The document sees the Church as a reality rooted in the Trinity. It is expressed in time and concrete historicity as a pilgrim and an evangelizing people.[39] In Him all things and all people find unity. The unity in diversity that is necessary for harmony in the Church and to avoid monoculturality and monotony draws its power from the Holy Spirit and is ultimately rooted in the unity of Essence (nature) and the distinction of persons in the Trinity.

Even on the realm of prayer, the intercessory prayer is like “a leaven in the heart of the Trinity.”[40] Prayer is done in the name of the Trinity as we know and ultimately whatever any one does as a Christian must have that relation to Jesus moved by the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father. “The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity.”[41]
5.2      Christology
Having already stated that the document is pastoral, it is still pertinent to note that the Pope has a clear vision of the source of this pastoral. That is dogmatic. At the heart of this is Christology. Apart from what was seen above,[42] the Pope states that the heart of evangelization must be the explicit proclamation that Jesus is Lord. And there is “a primacy of the proclamation of Jesus Christ in all evangelizing work.”[43] Consequently, the Pope sees the personal encounter with Jesus, and an enthusiastic convinced relationship with him as the bedrock for a conviction to preach him. And to have this conviction, one needs union with Jesus. The goal of all this is the glory of the Father. The Pope states:
This is our definitive, deepest and greatest motivation, the ultimate reason and meaning behind all we do: the glory of the Father which Jesus sought at every moment of his life… If we are missionaries, it is primarily because Jesus told us that “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (Jn 15: 8). Beyond all our own preferences and interests, our knowledge and motivations, we evangelize for the greater glory of the Father who loves us.[44]

The Pope sees mission (and therefore, also missiology) as at once passion for Jesus (and therefore, also Christology) and passion for his people (and therefore, also, ecclesiology). But at the end the bottom line, the reason, the driving force from which all these draw their meaning is both abbatological and Christological.[45] The model from which we draw is as well Jesus himself in his life and death. And wherever he is preached, the Christian faith cannot limit itself or be constricted to the limits of understanding and expression of any one culture because no single culture can exhaust the mystery of our redemption in Christ.
5.3      The Incarnation[46]
The Incarnation and the Son of God made flesh. Authentic faith becomes one in the son of God made flesh and becomes inseparable with the gift of self, belonging to a community and getting reconciled with the flesh of others. The principle here is the incarnation. The various ‘nos’ – negations – (‘no’ to an economy of exclusion, no to the idolatry of money, no to the financial system which rules rather than serves, and no to the inequality which spawns violence, no to selfishness and spiritual sloth, no to a sterile pessimism, no to spiritual worldliness), asserted by the pope become a refusal of the anti-incarnational principle. The Christian ideal summons all to a face-to-face encounter with others. The ‘logic of the incarnation’ here animates the understanding of even the cultures and inculturation while the ‘primacy of grace’ is held up as a beacon which must illuminate any reflection on evangelization.[47]
The Pope identifies a general thirst for God. This must be responded to through a sound spirituality. But he insists that care must be taken that these thirsty ones do not quench their thirst through a disembodied Jesus who demands nothing of us in relation to others since that does neither make life truly human nor give glory to God.[48]
Another important reality for evangelization is popular piety. This is interpreted in terms of the incarnation. Popular forms of piety are seen as the incarnation of the Christian faith in popular culture. They entail a personal relationship with Christ, Mary and the Saints. The principle of incarnation helps people to learn to find Jesus in the faces of others.[49] In fact, there is a ‘logic of the incarnation.’ And there is a way we would think of Christianity and we will be going against this logic. Even our social relations, the command of brotherly love and the social dimension of evangelization draw from this logic because “our brothers and sisters are the [permanent] prolongation of the incarnation for each of us.”[50] It provides a foundation for “the service of charity which is a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being.”[51] This logic and principle lead to another very important one – the ecclesiological.
5.4      Pneumatology
Before examining the document’s ecclesiology, another interpretative key by which the document breathes is the Holy Spirit. It appears forty eight times in the document. To resolve the problems of stifling worldliness, the Pope proposes “breathing the pure air of the Holy Spirit.”[52] In areas where there are positive impacts, like the associations, and movements, it is the Holy Spirit operating. The Holy Spirit enriches cultures with the transforming power of the gospel. He enables us to enter into communion with the most Holy Trinity where all things find their unity. He guides every baptized person and guides the Church. He gives us a certain con-naturality with divine realities. He acts as a principal agent of the self evangelization of a community through its popular piety. He pours out riches in popular piety.
The Pope sees in popular piety, a manifestation of the theological life of the people nourished by the working of the Holy Spirit. In person to person evangelizing relationships he suggests ad hoc ways of carrying out preaching. He grants different charisms and in the area of dialogue makes whatever is taken up like culture and thought to become an instrument of the Spirit for enlightening and renewing the world. Active and creative trust in him helps in the preaching of homily. He completes the effort of the preacher in ways beyond the capacity of the preacher himself. He reminds and caters for the long run. He raises up channels to deliver non-Christians from aetheistic immanentism. He grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the gospel with boldness in every time and place even when it meets with opposition. He knows what is needed in every time and place and guides and directs us if we allow him without planning everything to the minutest detail.[53]
5.5      Ecclesiology
No one saves himself. God saves. But the salvation which he has brought is offered to people he has called together as a people not as isolated individuals. These people he has chosen and called is the Church. It is not an exclusive group of elites. The Pope hinges this teaching on the Church directly on Lumen Gentium and thereby does a dogmatic elucidation of the teaching of the Council. In a similar way, he elaborates widely on the understanding of the Church but always in line with the Tradition of the Church.[54]
The Pope insists that we must never allow ourselves to be robbed of our community. The principle of incarnation makes us to seek and love to be members of a community in a genuine spirituality of communion. The Church is then the people of God and more than just an organization. The document goes on then to outline the various insidious dangers that may belie the Church. One of these is spiritual worldliness. This can be fuelled by Gnosticism and neo-pelagianism. The Pope sees these as realities which can mask themselves even under the guise of a soundness of doctrine or discipline but is not really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. They are accompanied by an insidious worldliness. These function within the Church with concern sometimes for the liturgy, for doctrine and for Church prestige but without any care for God’s people but for the Church as an institution. But these are to be overcome by the mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen.[55] But these have to be overcome through the incarnate reality of our people through suffering and sacrifice. We must not waste time talking about what needs to be done instead of living out the reality of the faith directly.
The document specifies the role of the lay people in the Church and the challenge their formation poses pastorally. As with the role of the laity, so the Pope delineates the role of women as well.[56] In this, an important dogmatic issue is raised. This concerns the reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist. The Pope considers it a question that is not ‘open to discussion.’ It is something that can prove divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. This leads the Pope to a real theology of power and ministry in the Church and he states that our dignity as Christians derives from baptism. And all must do well to understand the dynamics involved.[57] This leads also to a theology of ministry and that of the Eucharist and baptism.
5.5.1      Option for the Poor
The Pope wants a poor Church for the poor. He states that “for the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological, political or philosophical one.” [58] He grounds this on biblical passages, magisterial teachings and on the Tradition of the Church. The option for the poor is a dimension of Christian charity grounded in Christological faith and therefore  is different from any form of ideology and from attempts to exploit the poor for personal or political interests.[59]
5.5.2      Regnology
This is an important aspect that is well developed in the Exhortation. It makes it clear that “the Gospel is about the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk4:43).”[60] The Pope asserts that the Gospel is not so much about personal relationship with God. It is not about easing our conscience with God. But it is related to the Kingdom which we must seek primarily. It is a reality already in our midst but which must develop. Evangelization is to make this Kingdom present.[61]
This is where the social dimension of the exhortation comes in again. God has created everything “for our enjoyment” (1Tim 6: 17), for the enjoyment of every one. So evangelization must also imply an integral promotion of man, and not just seek to prepare their souls to heaven.[62]  However, the Pope states that there is no monopoly of the Papacy or the Church for the resolution of social questions but each Christian community is to examine and analyze their own peculiar situation.[63]
A number of other issues are raised by the Pope in the document. These issues include the violation of personal rights, which constitute an offence against the creator, an attention to and custody of creation, a look at the dignity of man and a reference to the dialogue between faith and reason. On this last note, he states that:
Whenever the sciences – rigorously focused on their specific field of inquiry – arrive at a conclusion which reason cannot refute, faith does not contradict it. Neither can believers claim that a scientific opinion which is attractive but not sufficiently verified has the same weight as a dogma of faith.
5.5.3      Mariology
The Exhortation like most papal documents ends its reflection with an attention to Mary. Here she is linked to the Holy Spirit. She is indispensable for an understanding of the spirit of the new evangelization. The Pope traces the various dimensions of the life of Mary with Jesus. He highlights her close connection with Christ, the Church and each member of the faithful as expressed by Isaac of Stella. He further outlines her life of faith, of love and care for the poor. He concludes by pointing to the Marian ‘style’ of the Church’s work of evangelization.[64]
6      Conclusion
The Joy of the Gospel is a lovely exhortation. Structurally, it has 288 paragraphs which span five chapters. In it the Pope apart from citing the second Vatican Council copiously, cites seven encyclicals, eight apostolic exhortations, four Apostolic Letters, three conferences, and a host of other books and writings of a dogmatic and ecclesiastical character.[65]
Although, he insists that he does not want to be exhaustive in the wide themes on which he exhorts, yet he is elaborate enough on those he chooses to propose. The exhortation could be read from different points of view. But here, we have tried to look at it from a strictly dogmatic – theological perspective. This is a solidly grounded pastoral document built on rock dogmatic foundations but transmitted with the ease that is possible only for one who has his feet on the ground with his faith and vision. It is a book that radiates with the joy of the Holy Spirit, hope and love constructed on the edifice of faith in God made manifest in Christ in and through the Church.



[1] J. Pohle, “Dogmatic Theology” in Catholic Encyclopedia, sine data completa in PUST Dogmatic lecture notes.
[2] Bartmann Bernard, Manuale di Theologia Dogmatica, Vol. 1: Dio – Creazione,  transl. N. Busssi, Alba: Edizione Paoline 1938, 8-9.
[3] Müller Gerhard Ludwig, Dogmatica Cattolica, per lo studio e la prassi della teologia, Milano: Edizioni San Paolo, 1999, 62; Original title: Katholische Dogmatik. Für Studium und Praxis der Theologie, Verlag Herder Freiburg I, Br. 1995, Carla Danna (transl.).
[4] Ibid., 27.
[5] XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops gathered to discuss The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, 7-28 October, 2012.
[6] Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father Evangelii Gaudium , on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2013, no. 174. This is a direct foundation of Evangelization on the word of God.
[7] Ibid., no. 32.
[8] Ibid., no. 1.
[9] Ibid., no. 3. The Pope directly quotes Paul the VI’s Apostolic Exhortation in the text. The copious citation of earlier papal magisterium is already significant as indicative of a decisive ecclesiastical doctrinal continuity and coherence.
[10] Cf. Ibid., no. 7.
[11] Ibid., no. 148. Emphasis is mine. But this is also a clear allusion to the Popes intention to be within the Tradition and the Tradition as a necessary appurtenance for the joy of the gospel.
[12] Ibid., 156, emphasis in the original.
[13] Ibid., 41.
[14] Cf. Ibid., 11.
[15] Ibid., 209
[16] Ibid., 199.
[17] Ibid., 281. In fact, the pope refrains from exploring many questions which call for further reflection and study (see no. 16).
[18] Cf. Ibid., 133
[19] The Pope quotes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith four times.
[20] Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, cit., 194-195.
[21] Ibid., 13
[22] Pope John Paul II is cited not less than fifty two times through a good number (at least twenty of the documents he issued).
[23] Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, cit., 14-18. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, LG is cited seven times in the Exhortation.
[24] Cf. Ibid., 19
[25] Pope Francis cites him at least twenty one times through several of the documents he issued as Pope and at least once in his capacity as a theologian.
[26] In the text, references to the documents released by him appear no less than twenty five times.
[27] There are eighteen citations of the Council in the Exhortation through seven of its documents.
[28] Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, cit., 26-28.
[29] Ibid., 28
[30] This has been already hinted at in the beginning (see note 4 above).
[31] Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, cit., 29-32.
[32] There are several post-synodal Apostolic Exhortations from all the synods in every continent in the world cited in the Exhortation. The following are cited: John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa [14 Sept., 1995] (twice), John Paul II, post-synodal  Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America [22 January 1999] (once), John Paul II, post-synodal  Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Asia [6 November, 1999] (six times); John Paul II, post-synodal  Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Oceania [22 November, 2001] (thrice), Benedict XVI, post-synodal  Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente (once), the second Special Assembly for Europe of the synod of bishops [27 Oct., 1999] (once). There are even ideas cited from local Episcopal conferences and their relevant sub-committees in some cases. For instance the Third General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Puebla Document, 23 March 1979 (is cited twice); Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Pastoral Letter What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land? [29 January 1988] (once); Commission Sociale de L’Épiscopat Français, Réhabiliter la politique (17 Feb., 1999); Conferência Nacional dos Bispos di Brazil, Exigências Evangélicas e éticas de superação de miséria e da fome” [April 2002] (once); the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Aparecida Document, 29 June 2007 (is cited thirteen times); United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ministry of Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care [ 2006] (once); United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pastoral Letter Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship [ November 2007] (once); Azione Cattolica Italiana, Messaggio della XIV Assemblea  Nazionale alla Chiesa ed al Paese [8 May 2011] (once); Conférence des Éveques de France, Conseil Famille et Société, Élagir le mariage aux personnes de même sexe? Ouvrons le debat [28 September 2012] (once); Comité de la Conférence Épiscopal Nationale du Congo, Message sur la situation sécuritaire dans le pays [5 December 2012 (once); Indian Bishop’s Conference, Final Declaration of the XXX Assembly: The Role of the Church for a Better India [8 March, 2013] (once); and several other exhortations and magisterial documents that do not have any specific relevance to the local Churches as such.
[33] Cf. Ibid., 33.
[34] The Summa Theologia of St. Thomas is quoted thirteen times in the document while his Summa Contra Gentiles makes one appearance.
[35] Cf. Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, cit., 43-48.
[36] Cf. Ibid., 44. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) significantly is cited thrice in the document.
[37] Ibid., 51.
[38] Ibid., 51.
[39] Cf. Ibid., 111.
[40] Ibid., 283
[41] Ibid., 117
[42] See p. 6 above: “Christ, named as the “eternal gospel” in this document is the heart of the message of evangelization. Here Jesus is named as “the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person.” He is our peace. He is Lord. These all serve as foundations for the various praxes that the Pope proposes.”
[43] Ibid., 110.
[44] Ibid., 267
[45] That leads automatically to the Trinity for to traffic with the Father and the Son one needs the Holy Spirit.
[46] G. Battista Mondin holds that the Incarnation ‘constitutes the undeniable content of Christology’. “It is the architectonic Principle of all Christology. It is the primary and principal truth and the unique access to the mystery of the person of Christ.” “At the logical, ontological and theological level, the Incarnation is and remains the key mystery and the architectonic principle of Christology ” (Dimkpa Anthony C., The Self-consciousness of Jesus Christ, Enumclaw WA: Pleasant Word Publ., 2010, 133 see notes, 1, 2, 3 and 127; See Mondin G. B., Gesù  Cristo, Salvatore dell’uomo, Cristologia storica e sistematica (Bologna: Edizioni Studio Domenicano, 1993, 283-284).
[47] See Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father Evangelii Gaudium, cit.  88, 112
[48] Ibid., 89
[49] Cf. Ibid., 90-92.
[50] Cf. Ibid., 179
[51] Benedict XVI Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae Naturae (11 November 2012): AAS 104 (2012), 996 quoted in Cf. Ibid., no. 179.
[52] Cf. Ibid., 97.
[53] Reference to the Holy Spirit fills the document but what is cited here come from nos: 97, 105, 116-117, 119, 122, 124-125, 128, 130, 132, 145, 151, 225, 254, 259, 261, 265, 280.
[54] Cf. Ibid., 113-118
[55] Cf. Ibid., 95-96, 102, 120-124.
[56] Cf. Ibid., 102-103
[57] Cf. Ibid., 104.
[58] Cf. Ibid., 198
[59] Cf. Ibid., 198-99
[60] Cf. Ibid., 180
[61] Cf. Ibid., 176
[62] Cf. Ibid., 182
[63] Cf. Ibid., 184
[64] Cf. Ibid., 284-287
[65] Apart from the just recently canonized two papal saints, Pope John XXXIII and John Paul II, the Holy Father cites more than 8 saints.
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