Australia Makes First Response Worldwide to Pope’s New Exhortation
Pope Francis sends out the message “What are we waiting for?” (EG 120) loud and clear in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, known in English as The Joy of the Gospel.
And it is Australia which has quickly made the first comprehensive response world-wide to this teaching of the Pope in a new book. The Francis Effect: Living the Joy of the Gospel has been released online by Catholic Mission and Catholic Religious Australia.
These organisations have brought together twelve prominent Catholic leaders to share their insights from the document, highlighting some of the challenges and the inspiration needed to fully live the joy of the Gospel in their varied Australian ministries.
With a foreword by famed mission theologian Father Stephen Bevans SVD, The Francis Effect is an opportunity to engage with Evangelii Gaudium in an active and practical way. Fr Bevans writes, “The twelve Australian Catholic leaders who have written these essays rather spontaneously in the days after the release of the Exhortation, are women and men who also ‘smell like the sheep’.”
In a perspective titled ‘The Risk of Loving Asylum Seekers’ Mr Joe Maloney, Research Officer for Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee writes of the perpetuated fears across much of our society towards those seeking asylum manifested from self-centeredness. Maloney’s question: “How to get our community leaders and parishioners to recognise the face of Jesus in those seeking refuge?” is a direct challenge to us all. How are we to recognise that “every personal encounter has the power to transform lives for both asylum seekers and those who receive them?”
Mr Graeme Mundine, Executive Officer, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Sydney, writes a poignant reflection highlighting some of the continuing struggle Aboriginal people face even in the most basic traditions of prayer. He writes, “Today, with the introduction of the new translation, the Aboriginal Our Father cannot be used because the law only allows the Western version... The new liturgy has shown that there seems to be only one way to celebrate the life of Jesus which is foreign to Aboriginal peoples and we cannot see the Aboriginal face of Jesus within the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Professor Anne Cummins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Australian Catholic University, is another of the authors featured. Her perspective titled ‘The Transformative Power of Education’ offers some insight into the courage required to teach with love, examining the vocation of teaching. Education is one of the largest Catholic employers and Professor Cummins asks, “How do Catholic employers avoid an ‘economy of exclusion and inequality?’’’ (EG 53). Cummins also considers possible roles for women in the Church highlighting Pope Francis’ call that “we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church” (EG 103).
But joy remains the central theme and message of both Evangelii Gaudium and The Francis Effect and as Father Bevans writes, “Despite an atmosphere in the Church that is sceptical and scandalised, Pope Francis calls the Church to hope, to the central message of Christianity” as do each of the authors. What are we waiting for? The joy of the Gospel is there for us all.
Read The Francis Effect – Living the Joy of the Gospel free online at www.catholicmission.org.au/thefranciseffect or order your print copy by calling 1800 257 296 or online at www.catholicmission.org.au