Pope Francis I released his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel") yesterday to much fanfare. Conservative Catholics seemed to be pretty quiet, thought I find this surprising in light of Francis's powerful call for Catholics to start sharing their faith and engaging in personal evangelism. Liberal Catholics and non-Catholics have had a lot to say about Evangelii Gaudium, most of which dwells on Francis's critique of capitalism. (Did they read the entire document?)
I read Evangelii Gaudium last night and came away inspired. I was so inspired that I have decided to devote a few posts to it. (I also wrote a 1400-word piece that we are currently shopping around. If no outlet picks it up I will post it to the blog).
As an evangelical, one of the things I love about Evangelii Gaudium is its use of the Old and New Testaments. I counted 205 references to the Bible. Virtually everything Francis said was supported by Scripture. This is one of many reasons why evangelicals should read this document and meditate upon it.
I also found it interesting that Francis cited John Paul II and Benedict XVI, his two immediate predecessors, fifty-nine times. (By my count). That is just less than one-third of all his citations. (He cited John Paul II forty-two times and Benedict XVI seventeen times). What does this say about the idea that Francis is moving the church away from the vision of the last two popes?
(By the way, he cited Paul VI 19 times, Vatican II 18 times, and The General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishiops 15 times).