Chapter Two of Evangelii Gaudium is divided into two long sections. The first covers “Some Challenges of Today’s World,” and will take us from today’s post into paragraph 75. Just an fyi: this is where many conservatives got lost, got steamed, and stopped reading.
52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.
This seems an accurate assessment, including the “so-called rich countries.” The pope surely saw and experienced the wealth of Latin America concentrated not in nations as such, but in aristocrats. The situation in the United States is becoming similar with an increase in inequality, disrespect, and unpunished corruption. If violence is on the wane, consider that it instead has migrated to the entertainment screen and bursts out on occasion to slaughter the innocent.
Does modern life contribute to or hinder the joy of faith? Pope Francis is right to frame the questions of culture in this way. Such questions are proper to ask of Christians who attempt to wear the mantle of both Christ and their personal accomplishments.