Summary of Evangelii Nuntiandi by Pope Paul VI

Background:

Evangelii Nuntiandi (“Evangelization in the Modern World”) is an apostolic exhortation issued on 8 December 1975 by Pope Paul IV on the theme of evangelization. Written 10 years after Vatican II, in a direct effort to reverse the collapse of missionary zeal that unfortunately happened after the Council, Evangelii Nuntiandi clearly explains what evangelization is and how to go about evangelizing in the modern world.

  • Since Pope Francis said here that it’s “the greatest pastoral document that has ever been written to this day,” it’s well worth reading again!
  • Click here for a link to Evangelii Nuntiandi.

Here are the key insights I gained:

#1: Jesus is the 1st and greatest evangelist.

“Jesus Himself, the Good News of God, was the very first and the greatest evangelizer; He was so through and through: to perfection and to the point of the sacrifice of His earthly life” (7).

In his proclamation of both the Kingdom of God and the Good News of salvation through both words (preaching) and signs (miracles), Christ is the perfect model and leader for what evangelization looks like.

“Evangelization will also always contain – as the foundation, center, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy” (27).

#2: Evangelization is the essential mission of the Church.

“Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection” (14).

We, as members of the Church, have a divine mandate and duty to evangelize. We are called to bring the transformative power of the Good News into every area of humanity. For this to be effective, we must begin by being evangelized ourselves (15).

“The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs” (18).

#3: Authentic witnesses are needed to evangelize.

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (41).

Evangelical zeal “must spring from true holiness of life” (76). But, at the same time, don’t allow this to prevent you from going out to evangelize. Being evangelized yourself and evangelizing others are often complementary.

#4: The Holy Spirit is the principal agent & goal of evangelization.

“Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit… Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic has no power over the heart of man. Without Him the most highly developed schemas resting on a sociological or psychological basis are quickly seen to be quite valueless” (75).

“It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is He who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is He who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood. But it can equally be said that He is the goal of evangelization: He alone stirs up the new creation, the new humanity of which evangelization is to be the result, with that unity in variety which evangelization wishes to achieve within the Christian community” (75).

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