The document written by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, entitled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is a very heartening development in the citadel of Christianity—the Catholic church.

The papal document is a 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on “the church’s primary mission of evangelization in the modern world”.

Pope Francis wrote: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.  I do not want a church concerned with being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”

He went on to say: “More than my fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving.”

Maybe, this ascendancy of Pope Francis is the ushering of a new era in the history of the Catholic Church—a church which has been long buried in the pit of scandalous history by its very un-Christ-like practices.  Maybe, this is a veritable resurrection of the Church of Christ—if there really was a true church built by Christ himself.

But perhaps, apart from identifying with the poor masses, the Church should redirect its evangelical mission towards an honest-to-goodness people’s movement to change the world, such that poverty will truly become a thing of the past.   If the Church will merely be content with  identifying with the poor, ministering to them as objects of charity, then the church will remain aloof—in other words, an elitist institution that is itself an instrument of exploitation and oppression, not to say it is a channel of obscurantism.  Read between the lines, Pope Francis’ words seem geared towards reestablishing the Catholic church as a People’s Church of Christ.

Pope Francis’ injunctions should sink deep into the consciousness of the institutional Church so that it becomes a true People’s Church of Christ.

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