In the document, Pope Francis highlighted that "an evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people's daily lives," through "bridging distances," "embracing human life," and "touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others."
"Evangelizers thus take on the 'smell of the sheep' and the sheep are willing to hear their voice," he continued, reflecting on the need for evangelizing communities to be patient and supportive, "standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be."
Noting the importance of the bishops' role in the evangelization of their dioceses, the pontiff stated that "it is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory."
"In this sense," he stressed, "I am conscious of the need to promote a sound 'decentralization'" in order to simplify the Church's focus on mission and outreach.
This decentralization could involve reforming the structure and role of episcopal conferences. According to the exhortation, "a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated."
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod of bishops, pointed to the rarity of a papal document citing documents from bishops' conferences, saying "I don't believe this has been done abundantly in the past. The ordinary magisterium is not just that of the Pope, it is that of the college of all the bishops."
He suggested that Pope Francis is leading to a sort of "primacy of collegiality."
In addition, the archbishop observed that although "Evangelii Gaudium" comes from suggestions of the 2012 synod of bishops on the new evangelization, it is not a "post-synodal exhortation," because the Holy Father wanted to make of it a wider "programmatic" document.
"Pope Francis himself wanted the document to be an apostolic exhortation," thus detaching it from the synod of bishops, Archbishop Baldisseri told the press.
Through the way in which he communicates in this exhortation, "Pope Francis is inviting the Church to assume an attitude of encounter, of going towards the men and women of today and showing these men and women the love of the Father," Archbishop Celli told CNA.
"I believe that this is a fundamental point. The Church exists to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Jesus."
"The Pope," he emphasized, "wants the Church to know how to dialogue, how to walk, how to express its sympathy to the human being and establish with him a respectful dialogue to announce Jesus Christ."
"Pope Francis invites us to be valiant, courageous and missionaries."
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