What the Vatican Changed in “The Joy of the Gospel”


Speculation swirled last week when the Vatican mysteriously removed the text of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), from their website. Many theories floated around, from the innocent—maybe the translation needed updating?—to the more radical—was the Holy See redacting certain passages?

As it turns out, the changes were fairly insignificant. Within the last few hours, the Vatican re-published the exhortation online and I used software to compare the old and new versions. There were several changes. For instance, the new version features hyperlinked footnotes and internal links to other Church documents (e.g., when Pope Francis mentions Evangelii Nuntiandi, the text links to Pope Paul VI’s work.) They also adjusted several grammatical errors (e.g., “is” to “are”, “peole” to “people”.)

However, the new document features no substantial changes. Below you’ll find the most significant adjustments (strikethough indicates removals while bold indicates additions):
Paragraph 5 – “Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart.”

Paragraph 9 – “In this sense regard, several sayings of Saint Paul will not surprise us…”

Paragraph 11 – “With this freshness newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities…”

Paragraph 15 – “Many of these them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face…”

Paragraph 28 – “While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if it the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity

Paragraph 28 – “This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed cluster group made up of a chosen few.”

Paragraph 42 – “Some things are understood and appreciated only from the standpoint of this assent, which is a sister to love, beyond the level range of clear reasons and arguments.”

Paragraph 53 – “We have created a disposable “throw away” culture which is now spreading.”

Paragraph 84 – “Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, while we are distressed by the troubles of our age and far from naive optimism; our greater realism yet the fact that we are more realistic must not mean that we are any less trusting in the Spirit or less generous.”
So for all those worried about bad translations or the Church adjusting official papal teaching, rest assured! It seems the only reason the Holy See removed the text was to make it easier to read and understand (thanks to the hyperlinked sources) and to update a few minor typos.