Evangelii Nuntiandi 33-34: All Human Concerns

Two closely related sections that spell out succinctly the Church’s approach to the intersection of liberation and evangelization:

33. With regard to the liberation which evangelization proclaims and strives to put into practice one should rather say this:

– it cannot be contained in the simple and restricted dimension of economics, politics, social or cultural life; it must envisage the whole (person), in all … aspects, right up to and including his openness to the absolute, even the divine Absolute;

– it is therefore attached to a view of (humankind) which it can never sacrifice to the needs of any strategy, practice or short-term efficiency.

34. Hence, when preaching liberation and associating herself with those who are working and suffering for it, the Church is certainly not willing to restrict her mission only to the religious field and dissociate herself from man’s temporal problems. Nevertheless she reaffirms the primacy of her spiritual vocation and refuses to replace the proclamation of the kingdom by the proclamation of forms of human liberation- she even states that her contribution to liberation is incomplete if she neglects to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.


EN 33 states simply that evangelization is never limited to material and secular concerns. That should go without saying.

It also rejects the basic moral fallacy of the ends justifying the means. The cause of evangelization is, and always should be, one of the long view. If we fail in looking to the long view, the big picture, it is our own fault, not Christ’s.

The Church does not limit itself to the realm of the spiritual. Like Jesus, we are concerned with the physical and emotional condition of those we serve, those with whom we walk.

My sense of the last several posts is that Pope Paul VI was not a writer content to move from point A to B to C and so on. In what seems to be a repetition from section to section, to me he seemed to be building on closely related themes, and sometimes restating things to make a point. Some might call it meandering. I wouldn’t disagree.

The narrative comtinues tomorrow, and if you are interested, the topic of liberation will touch on the posts through EN 39. With section 40, we will begin to look at the “ways and means” of evangelizing.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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