Pope Francis Throws Out the “P” Word Again

He said it again:  the Church does not grow by proselytizing but by attracting. 

Speaking to a youthful audience in Umbria on October 6, Pope Francis repeated his rejection of proselytizing as an effective means of communicating the gospel.  A Church grows, he said, because the testimony of the People of God is attractive—not because of proselytizing.  He urged the young people who sat at his feet to “come out of the self” and to go towards “the true peripheries of life.”

I think I get the message.  First, to clear up any confusion following his “proselytizing” remarks last week, Pope Francis distinguishes between evangelization, which is a cheerful witness to the good news of the Gospel as evidenced in your life, and proselytizing, which is a pushy preaching.

Speaking at the end of his visit to Assisi, hometown of his namesake, Pope Francis encouraged the young and all people to be witnesses of the faith:

“In the name of St Francis, I say to you: I haven’t gold or silver to give you, but something much more precious,  the Gospel of Jesus. Go forward with courage!… Be witnesses of the faith with your life:  Bring Christ into your homes, proclaim him among your friends, welcome him and serve him in the poor.”

Addressing the contemplative sisters who were also present, he urged them to center their lives on Jesus, and not only on the asceticism and penitence of cloistered life.   Jesus must be, the pope said, …at the center of your life, of your penance, of your community life, of your prayer and also of the universality of prayer.”

Cloistered sisters, he reminded them,

“are called to have great humanity, a humanity like that of Mother Church, to be human, to understand the things of life, to be people who know how to understand human problems, who know how to forgive, who know how to ask the Lord on behalf of others.”

  • schmenz

    After having the hellish experience of witnessing what goes on in most Catholic churches every Sunday I cannot imagine it attracting too many people.

    • Indigo Blu

      And yet it does. And yet it does. And still it grows, the miracle of its simple loveliness. When all is said and done, the centrepiece, the Host,–we who congregate are guests of God, who offers His Body and Blood, the highpoint of liturgy. To those of us who have found this out so late …the urgency of making up for lost time. If you can seek to delve deeper, you too will see and know and fall in love again and again.

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    If you study the history of the conversion of Europe, it is, for the most part, friars, monks and monasteries (pray-ers and evangelizers) that attracted people to the Catholic Church. I think it is good that we differentiate between evangelization and proselytization. We only need to be wary of false charges of proselytizing -charges that are just anti-Christian bigotry in disguise