"Evangelii nuntiandi" and the Puebla "Final Document": Their effects on the mission of evangelization with the poor

Thomas John Scheuring, Fordham University


This dissertation studies a phenomenon that has emerged, in a unique way, within the Catholic Church of Latin America in recent decades, and which is impacting the rest of the world. Much has been written about the poor but scholarship has been meager regarding the theology of evangelization. What has been researched to a relatively small degree, and to which this dissertation hopes to make a contribution, is what has been learned about evangelization among the materially poor. The topics of evangelization and the poor have seldom been analysed regarding their relationship with each other. Evangelii nuntiandi, the hallmark document by Pope Paul VI, written in 1975, defines evangelization with a breadth and depth never articulated before in the Church. It expands the theology of evangelization and strengthens it to the point of describing evangelization as the very mission and identity of the Church. This document is analyzed with a particular eye to what it may contribute specifically to evangelization with the materially poor. The Latin American bishops, at their general episcopal conference in Puebla, Mexico, in 1979, struggled to find ways of evangelizing their peoples, for years plagued by poverty and injustice. As a guide to their deliberations, they used Evangelii nuntiandi. This document is likewise analyzed with particular attention given to the aspects that deal specifically with evangelization with the materially poor. Other topics which support and contribute to this main theme are also explored, such as: the theology of "signs of the times", conversion, baptism in the early Church, the preferential option for the poor, the poor and their perception of God, and the poor in the New Testament. A more lengthy section deals with base ecclesial communities since they are the main avenue of evangelization among the poor of Latin America. Coupled with the specific study of these two documents is the attempt to show that as Christians accept their identity as participants in the mission outreach of the Church, a deeper awareness of and commitment to an evangelistic outreach with the materially poor becomes not only an option but a mandate.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Scheuring, Thomas John, ""Evangelii nuntiandi" and the Puebla "Final Document": Their effects on the mission of evangelization with the poor" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9025022.