Pope Francis has preached a sermon to the world; whether any are listening, remains to be seen. To begin, the English title of his “Evangelii Gaudiam” is rendered: “The Joy of the Gospel” when “The Joy of Preaching the Gospel” might be closer to his primary target. His declared purpose is to reenergize the pastoral evangelism of his church; he makes that very clear indeed.
He diagnoses a sick and increasingly evil society, ill with modernism, materialism, atheism and relativism that attack the Judeo-Christian roots of Western society. His prescription is exhorting his pastors to get up off their butts and go out to do their job, selling Christ’s program for fulfilling human life. Though this is the primary purpose in his exhortation, most reports have paid little attention to this aspect of the Holy Father’s preaching.
Even less attention has been put upon his straightforward economic statement that excessive debt and interest are an evil incurred by governments since they deprive the people of their income. The reportorial silence on this, is deafening.
Most of the reportorial attention seems to flow from His Holiness’economics paragraph 56, in which he says unequivocally that free markets are evil and must be restrained by government. This is generally greeted with approval by the political Left, the same that is now doing its best to extirpate the Pontiff’s church from the public square. On this point, we believe that the Pope has missed a crucial point; that the same human nature that he finds a source of evil in a free market, is the helmsman of the government he assigns to cure it. Therefore, he has as Jesus Christ observed, called upon the devil to cast out devils, a prescription bound to fail.
Subject to that single qualification, the Pontiff’s diagnosis and prescription seem dead center on today. His people’s traditional support for the politicians who now work to proscribe his institution becomes a larger question and the largest question remains: Is anybody listening to the Pope in these days? Francis is doing his job; now it is up to the faithful, however many are left. It seems possible that some future day, Evangelii Guadiam may mark the sunset or the revival of Western Catholicism.