Pope Francis explains why he’s gone off the usual script for these apostolic exhortations, and why much of this text is his own thought. They seem like good reasons to me: he was asked, and he has his own “concerns” about evangelization.
I’m ready to read:
16. I was happy to take up the request of the Fathers of the Synod to write this Exhortation.[Cf. Propositio 1] In so doing, I am reaping the rich fruits of the Synod’s labours. In addition, I have sought advice from a number of people and I intend to express my own concerns about this particular chapter of the Church’s work of evangelization. Countless issues involving evangelization today might be discussed here, but I have chosen not to explore these many questions which call for further reflection and study. Nor do I believe that the papal magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world. 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, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization”.
This is what I got:
- Evangelization is a huge topic, and this document is not exhaustive, nor is it the final word for the Church. Some areas require more discernment.
- The pope does not have the final word on every challenge to the Church. Local bishops have responsibility. It is time for them to exercise this.
- Both of these lead to an issue which doesn’t seem to be evangelical in the strict sense. Nonetheless we have it: decentralization.