52 Movies: Week 8 - Wings of Desire

To be Christian and to be a missionary is the same thing. To proclaim the Gospel, with words, and, even before that, with one’s life, is the principle end of the Christian community and of each of its members. 

--Pope Francis, Angelus address, January 25, 2016

 

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This statement from His Holiness, which he has reiterated again and again in slightly varying forms, seems to be close to the heart of his thinking on evangelization. He repeatedly condemns "proselytizing," by which term I understand him to mean a rote, unstrategized and unpersonalized attempt to elicit some sort of on-the-spot conversion, a Catholic "altar call" if you will; rather than an honest encounter with the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ as only Catholicism can afford it -- and only convincingly in the example of the life of a real Catholic. That, of course, puts the burden on the evangelizer -- to be persuasive -- rather than the person evangelized -- to be receptive. In that sense, it's a "hard saying" from the successor of Peter. Which is exactly what we should expect from him.

I think you're right. I certainly hope that's what he meant by "proselytizing." His description of it as "nonsense" was one of his confusion-creating sound bites. People on both sides wondered if he meant that evangelization was irrelevant. He clearly didn't mean that, though, as this passage shows.

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