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8th December 2019

Pope Francis View on Mission 6/9

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In a book-length interview with Gianni Valente from Fides News Agency Pope Francis speaks about what has captured his heart: the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world. “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. 

Over the coming days a number of short ‘digestible’ chunks will feature in this blog.

Something else you repeat often, in this case in a negative sense: the Church does not grow through proselytizing, and the mission of the Church is not proselytism. Why do you insist on this so much? Is it to maintain good relations with other Churches and dialogue with other religious traditions?

The problem with proselytism is not only the fact that it contradicts the ecumenical journey and interreligious dialogue. There is proselytism wherever there is the idea of ​​making the Church grow by putting less emphasis on this attraction on the part of Christ and the work of the Spirit, focusing everything on any type of “wise discourse”. Therefore, proselytism first of all cuts out Christ Himself and the Holy Spirit from the mission, even when we claim to speak and act nominally in Christ’s name. Proselytism is always violent by nature, even when it is hidden or exercised with white gloves. It does not tolerate the freedom and graciousness with which faith can be transmitted from person to person by grace. This is why proselytism is not only something of the past, of bygone colonialist times, or conversions forced or bought with the promise of material advantages. Proselytism can also exist today even in parishes, communities, movements, religious congregations.

So what does it mean to evangelize?

To evangelize means delivering Christ’s own testimony in simple and precise words, like the apostles did. But there is no need to invent persuasive discourses. The proclamation of the Gospel can even be whispered, but it always passes through the overwhelming power of the scandal of the cross. And it has always followed the path indicated in the letter of the Apostle Peter, which consists in simply “providing reasons” of one’s hope to others, a hope that remains a scandal and foolishness in the eyes of the world.

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