“Evangelization” and “Evangelism”

Pope Francis has said that he is against “proselytizing.”  But he is also speaking on what his predecessor started, the “new evangelization.”  After the jump, some of his remarks on the subject.  He is advocating “dialogue with those who do not share our beliefs,” which he has been doing, and projecting “God’s mercy and tenderness.”  He’s been doing that too.  He is talking about “witnessing,” which we often think of as a Protestant term, depending on what is meant by that.

I’m curious if there is a difference between “evangelization” and “evangelism.”  And how a Roman Catholic, in particular, for whom church membership is critical, carries out “evangelizing” without “proselytizing.”  Can Christians who are not Roman Catholics join in these efforts as he describes them?  Also, is the “evangel”–the good news of Christ’s forgiveness won on the Cross–always clear, either in Catholic “evangelization” or Protestant “evangelism”?  

From Vatican Radio:

The importance of credible Christian witness to overcome indifference and religious illiteracy: that was the theme at the heart of Pope Francis’ message on Monday to members of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation.

Noting that so many people are indifferent or have grown away from the Church, the Pope said what we need most is credible witnesses, who show the beauty of God’s love through their words and their lives. While there are individuals and ideologies within the history of the Church that may be partly responsible for the current crisis, he said, we must continue on the path indicated by the Second Vatican Council to strip away those things which damage the face of the Church. Instead, the Pope said, all Christians must make God’s mercy and tenderness visible through their joyful witness and charity to others.

Secondly, he said, new evangelization means going out to meet others and to dialogue with those who do not share our ideas and beliefs. The Church, he stressed is a house with its doors always open, not only for others to be welcomed inside, but also for us to go out and bring God’s love and hope to others.

Finally Pope Francis focused on the practical, pastoral work of dioceses and parishes, saying this must always be centred on Jesus Christ as the very essence of our faith. He praised the work of catechists, saying parents must also be the first to bear witness and educate their families in the faith.

via Pope: credible Christian witnessses wanted.

HT:  Paul McCain

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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