Brandon Vogt

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.

  • karim3549

    what the reason, the were looking for someone to come redeem themselves, not the Greeks.
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  • It is an absurd that the Holy See doesn’t provide EPUB or Kindle versions of its documents. Almost as absurd as cracking down on those who provide them and the laws that they use to justify it.

    Could you imagine if the Holy See would have freely provided electronic versions of the YouCat to the youth at WYD? Can you imagine the American bishops freely providing electronic versions of the NAB and of the CCC to 111 million Americans with smartphones? How about 1 billion people in this God’s earth who have a smartphone being able to freely download an electronic version of any document from the Vatican’s website in their own language?

    This would be an awesome opportunity for pope Francis: yes, the Church would be poorer for being unable to profit from publishing deals; yes, some people could alter parts of the documents. Yet, doesn’t pope Francis prefer a Church that goes out over staying in its protected, cozy position?

    For the life of me, I can’t imagine pontiffs claiming copyright laws as an excuse for limiting their mission in their personal judgment. Faithful disobedience is in order, for I cannot imagine giving such a lame excuse myself.

    Catholic Anonymous anyone?

  • Well, here’s a way for you to get an .epub version FROM THE VATICAN site (sort of):

    This involves an individual getting the actual document from the vatican site, then using a patch to generate an epub copy. This is just a simplified version of making a personal .epub copy for private use via Scrivener or Calibre. The actual document is not distributed in this case.

    Is this cool with you, Brandon?

  • Stefanie

    Thanks for providing this, Brandon — I’m glad they made the document more research-friendly! My RCIA students and I were reading/discussing some of Paragraphs 2-3, 7&8 in the light of next Sunday’s readings. Good stuff.

  • laura

    Interesting. Were they planning to edit Pope Francis’s praise of Mandela?

  • The exhortation was unavailable in other languages too over the weekend.

  • Michael B Rooke

    Words and phrases can have connotations that go beyond their superficial meaning. Perhaps the most famous example is ‘work makes (you) free’ – Arbeit macht frei that was written over the gateways to Nazi extermination camps.

    In section 56 there is use of the phrase ‘happy few’ that in British English seems an unsuitable phrase for the outcome of grasping acquisitiveness.

    ’56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few’

    In its original Shakespearean connotation in the St. Crispin’s Day Speech of Shakespeare’s Henry V ‘happy few’ did not mean contentment with pleasure but the satisfaction of doing one what has to be done at personal sacrifice.

    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    Winston Churchill also used the expression ‘the few’ alluding to Shakespeare’s Henry V when speaking of the same personal sacrifice of airmen in the Battle of Britain in 1940 against the Hitlerian threat.

    It may also be noted that in the draft of his speech Churchill had written , ‘Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few’. Churchill read his speech to General Ismay who said ‘What about Jesus and his disciples?’ ‘Good old Pug,’ said Winston, who immediately changed the wording to ‘Never in the field of human conflict ‘

  • Fr. Charles McGuire

    If only the Vatican would pay more attention to doctrine than to grammar! Pope Francis clearly professed heresy by stating that the Jews have not lost their covenant with God. Scripture tells us that the Jews did indeed lose their covenant with God when they crucified Him. The conclusion is clear: Sedevacantism.

    • Aquinasbot

      All due respect Fr. perhaps you do not understand that God has indeed promised to fulfill his covenant with not only the Gentiles, but ultimately the Jews again.

      The conclusion is clear: God’s chosen people will come into full communion in the end.

      • Fr. Charles McGuire

        Mr. Maldonado, I am quite aware that the Jews will convert and that they will one day do great things for the Church and for society. Of this there is no question. However, they will then be acting as Catholics, not as members of the Jewish religion. To say that the Jewish religion maintains its covenant with God is in direct contradiction to the teachings of previous Councils of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XIV and Pope Pius XII are two of the Roman Pontiffs that come to mind that say in no uncertain terms that the Jewish covenant has been abolished.

        • John Fennell

          But they will be acting as members of the Jewish race. And, God made his covenants with the Jewish race, not the Jewish religion

      • Dorothy L

        Its not so much that it was lost but been fulfilled in Christ. Present day Jews just need to come to that realization.

  • bluejay_79

    On EWTN’s World Over on 12-5, Raymond interviewed Madison, WI Bishop Morlino. He said that the translation regarding capitalism and trickle down not solving poverty, should include two words, “by itself”. So, that’s true that capitalism by itself can’t solve poverty problem. These two words would change the misinterpretation that capitalism is a failed system. It is an imperfect system, but fosters human freedom. It is an imperfect system, but better than any other historical economic system.
    I hope they correct the English translation further as mentioned above.

  • So was this document rushed? It seems like these errors should have been dealt with before it was released.

  • James

    I printed the pdf version the day it was released and it seems to contain all the changes you mention. Safe to assume that the changes were only made to the first online version then?

  • Beaner

    Oh would you just look at that!

  • Timothy Reid

    Glad to hear there was no real redaction. I’m not worried however because I downloaded the original text last week anyway.

  • Gloria Laudes

    Excellent work, Brandon, thank you!

  • Lisa Soj

    Well that was positively anticlimactic…

  • Daniel

    What software did you use?

  • lhayes09

    Thank you for this simple clarification.

© 2017 Brandon Vogt