Evangelization and the missionary nature of the Church
On March 19, 2022, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Pope Francis promulgated the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium (PE) on the Roman curia and its service to the Church in today’s world. It comes into effect on June 5, 2022, the Solemnity of Pentecost, repealing John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus (PB) of June 28, 1988.
The opening words (incipit), Praedicate Evangelium indicate the perspective in which the constitution is to be read and the Roman curia understood.
The Preamble reveals Pope Francis’ purpose, “to better harmonize the present-day exercise of the curia’s service with the path of evangelization the Church is living at this time” (No. 3).
Pope Francis, taking up an expression contained in No. 30 of his November 24, 2013, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG), sees the Church in a “missionary conversion” that commits her to a renewal “according to the image of Christ’s own mission of love” and urges her to bring to people “the supernatural gift of faith” as the light that directs their journey at a time when they are particularly in need (Preamble, No. 2).
Thus, Pope Francis conceives of the reform of the Roman curia within the broader context of the reform of the Church, that is, her conversion to being missionary (Preamble, No. 3). In his address to the Roman curia on December 21, 2019, he spoke of the heart of the reform being “the first and most important task of the Church: evangelization.” Then he reiterated what had already been affirmed in Evangelii Gaudium, that is, that the whole life and every structure of the Church can “be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world” and not a means of “self-preservation” (EG 27). The reform of structures, he continued, consists in “ensuring that they all become more mission-oriented, ” hence the requirement of a “pastoral conversion.”