In his speech to the General Congregation of Cardinals prior to the 2013 conclave, the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said, “When the Church does not go out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then sick. […] When the Church is self-referential, without realizing it, she believes she has her own light. She ceases to be the mysterium lunae and this gives rise to the most serious evil of spiritual worldliness. […] Simplifying, there are two images of Church: either the evangelizing Church that comes out of herself, […] or the worldly Church that lives in herself, of herself, for herself. This must illuminate the possible changes and reforms that will have to be made for the salvation of souls. Regarding the next pope, we need a man who is founded on the contemplation of Jesus Christ and on the adoration of Jesus Christ, who will help the Church to go out of herself toward the existential peripheries, and help her to be the fruitful mother who lives ‘the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing’.”
In these words there is already, in embryo, the program of Pope Francis. In this tenth year of his pontificate, we will now try to show how it is being realized, considering five main documents: three apostolic exhortations (Evangelii Gaudium [EG], 2013; Amoris Laetitia [AL], 2016; Gaudete et Exsultate [GE], 2018) and two encyclicals (Laudato Si’ [LS], 2015; Fratelli Tutti [FT], 2020).
At thebr center of Francis’ thought is the Church, a Church that evangelizes and finds her reason for being in evangelizing. EG clearly affirms this. After a synod Francis had neither convoked nor directed, he was able to imprint a very personal signature on this document. He made it a programmatic text, in full harmony with the teaching of Paul VI, who once proclaimed: “Evangelizing, in fact, is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize.”