Yes, I Am Trying to Convert You!

Some time ago I had a long email conversation with an Evangelical friend about thing theological. I said to him, “Don’t worry. I simply want to dialogue with you. I don’t want to convert you.”

He called me on it. He said, “First of all, I don’t really believe you. You do actually want me to become Catholic. Secondly, you should want me to become Catholic. If you really believe your religion, then you believe it is for my good now and for my soul’s salvation that I convert to the Catholic faith. You should want to convert me, and if you really don’t then I think even less of your religion than I did before.”

So now, in conversation with Evangelicals or Atheists or whoever–if they ask if I want to convert them I say, “Yes I do, because I believe Jesus Christ has come to bring each one of us the abundant life here and life everlasting in heaven. That is a good thing, and I want that for you and for as many people as possible.” I say this with a big smile and a hug if possible. I have never had anyone take offense. Instead they have respected me for stating my views openly.

If a Christian enters dialogue and does not want to convert the other person then they are either being disingenuous or they really don’t believe it is necessary for the other person to convert. Both are wrong headed.

On the other hand, what does it mean to “convert” someone? If by “convert” we mean to play spiritual and mental games with the person to manipulate them into a state of confusion and fear so that they will accept our religion, then this is not true conversion. In a recent interview Pope Francis said, “Proselytism is nonsense.” What he probably meant was that the kind of religious emotional blackmail that is sometimes used to gain converts is useless.

What is required is not artificial, psychological, spiritual or financial pressure for a person to join a religion. That’s what happens in cults, but instead the intense desire to share the person and work of Jesus Christ in the fullness of the Catholic faith and to invite them to be converted at the depth of their soul and being.

This kind of conversion requires a heart and mind that are open and enquiring. It requires a tolerant, inquisitive and searching spirit. It also requires a humble submission to the truth of Christ’s gospel, a real encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ and true repentance of heart and mind on a daily basis.

To go out and preach the gospel means we embark on the great adventure of Evangelization with a desire to share the life of Christ with our words and works so that we might draw many to the saving knowledge of Christ the Lord.

  • Steve

    Yaaa…sure that is what he probably said…as my logic professor always taught me, “Words mean things”

    • Timothy

      “Words mean things.”

      100% true! However, some words mean many things, the nuance and context is important. Additionally, translation often takes one meaning over another at the expense of nuance, often completely changing an intended meaning. This is why the Italians have a phrase “traduttore traditore,” The translator is a traitor. Every translation is a betrayal of intention.

      This is why it is always important in understanding a text to know
      1. the original author’s intended audience
      2. the original author’s relationship and context with that audience.
      If we are ever to understand what the original intent was, we cannot take a text on it’s own, but must read it through the larger lens of that author’s work.

      The word “Proselytism” has a meaning. It has a dictionary meaning, and it has a separate cultural meaning. The question is, what meaning did the Italian word have? What cultural meaning did the Italian word (rendered here as proselytism) have? Even more than that, how did the intended audience – the atheists who read the original magazine interview – understand that word? He was saying it to them, and not to us, so our understanding of that word is not nearly as important as their understanding of that word.

      “words have meaning” but also, “words have meanings.” This is essential to keep in mind.

  • Suzy

    What I really wish is that the Holy Father could give an interview without it being necessary for priests, the Vatican press office etc. to have to issue clarifications afterwards. Benedict could have things taken out of context, and then have to have them explained, but in general if you read the whole of say his speech where he talked about Islam you didn’t have to have some one else clarify it for you. I read the stuff in the recent interview and you would have thought they were interviewing one of the progressives back in the 1970′s. I keep wanting to like this Pope. Some of what he’s saying is so right and really does need to be articulated. However, just when I start to like him he gives yet another interview with yet another easily misinterpreted segment. You’ve given an explanation of what he means by proselytism, but someone with a more “ecumenical” bent might think it means he doesn’t think conversion from another Christian sect is important.

    • Gordis85

      You may want to consider reading the comments he made in the latest interview in CONTEXT. Read the interview and go here for even more clarification:

      And one more thing EVERYONE…please stop the negative remarks towards our Holy Father. Instead, pray for him and for the rest of us and for our persecuted brothers and sisters, in the Middle East, who cannot sit in front of a computer all day and criticise all and everything our Holy Father says and does and does not do.

      Thanks FR. L for your take on the latest interview.

      • Cassandra

        It’s tough to take your criticism seriously, when you, yourself, are wasting time on the internet.

        I can’t pray for the Pope. He told us in the last interview that we are not “to interfere in the spiritual life of others”. What is prayer but direct interference? I must be obedient, right?

        The pope is not as concerned for our persecuted brothers and sisters under the muslims. He just said the greatest evil the Church must be concerned about is unemployment of the youth and loneliness of the old. No mention of persecuted Christians. Get with the new program!!!

        • Thomas Gallagher

          The Scriptures are abundantly clear: our first concern must be with the lonely, the poor, the abandoned, the hopeless. Which Pope has expressed strong, strong condemnation of the persecution of Christians? Are you listening? With ears not blocked by hatred and fear? Why can you not pray for this Pope? Betcha dollars to doughnuts he’s praying for you!

          • Alex Cooper

            Thomas, my dear old friend. I agree she should pray for the Pope. A LOT.

            But seriously, youth unemployment as the greatest evil in the world today? Our first concern is the salvation of souls. That’s the most important thing in the world. The first and greatest commandment is love of God, the second is like it.

            People are really scandalized by the latest interviews, and its no surprise that they are. The most generous thing you could say about his comments of late, are that they are confusing and imprudent. Realistically, I think you can say much more than that.

            The most charitable thing I think priests and seminarians can do for the faithful right now, is realize that the flock is hurt and scandalized… and not because the prodigal son is getting a party.

          • Thomas Gallagher

            Ah, Alex my dear old friend (and I really do hope you are my dear old friend, sincerely,) the best way you and I can cooperate with God’s grace and accept the salvation OF OUR SOULS is to feed the hungry and comfort the lost and lonely. No? That’s what Pope Francis is saying. Can we not recognize this Pope for what he is–a remarkably Christ-like man?

          • Alex Cooper

            Thomas, I was sincere as well. You are, and always will be, my friend. ( I just had a Spock moment.) I suppose we can talk it out a little bit tomorrow. These internet comboxes aren’t very fruitful.

          • Chesire11

            I think that the faithful son is offended that our Holy Father is out chasing the prodigal, and not spending sufficient time flattering his vanity.

          • Alex Cooper

            On the contrary, some of us are distressed because it looks to us, rightly or wrongly, like he’s not worried about chasing them. If we’re wrong, the ambiguity that even allows for such an interpretation is a serious problem in itself.

          • Chesire11

            The serious problem lies with a strain of Catholicism that smugly assumes that every statement from Rome is subject to the authority of their own personal imprimatur. Though not every word that spills from the papal lips is infallible, the pastoral teachings of the Pope DO possess authority short of infallibility, and significantly above amateur (and even professional) theologians. When we encounter something that seems at odds with our understanding of doctrine, maybe, just MAYBE instead of assuming that the See of St. Peter has fallen into heresy, we might instead have the humility to entertain the idea that we ourselves might possibly be wrong.

            Martin Luther imagined every man a priest. Pope Francis’ critics do Luther one better and imagine each one of them is a pope!

            If the faith is truly so small as to be able to be fully grasped by the finite mind of any man, then is is a banal, and futile thing that comports not at all with the Truth that is God. If the faith IS ordered toward God, we should hope for constant correction, which necessarily means that we are constantly letting go of comfortable errors, and the smug, lazy vanity of a small, domesticated “pet” faith shaped to suit our personal tastes.

          • Howard

            WRONG. The Scriptures are abundantly clear: the first commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.” Our FIRST concern is NOT with the poor, the abandoned, the hopeless. That comes later.

          • Alex Cooper

            The false dichotomy between love of God and truth on one hand, and love of neighbor and the poor on the other is a really upsetting problem which has been dividing the Church for years, and I think its coming to a head now, sadly.

          • Howard

            False dichotomy? They are two different, things, though the second is “like unto” the first, and the come in a specific order. If you don’t like it, take it up with the guy who said it: Jesus of Nazareth.

            Doing one DOES NOT MEAN leaving off the other, but Thomas Gallagher got the order wrong. This is not a small, insignificant thing. It leads to making an idol of the poor, or more typically, making an idol of programs aimed at helping the poor and the governments who run these programs. Both in the passage about the two greatest commandments and in the list of the Ten Commandments, GOD COMES FIRST.

        • JoAnna Wahlund

          where do you get that “prayer” is “Interference”? It’s exactly the opposite, because it leaves any outcome entirely up to God.

        • Chesire11

          Apparently you missed all of his other comments in which he expresses concern for the suffering Church and excoriates Catholics who are indifferent to the martyrs of our ancient sisters of the Middle East.

        • Jakie

          Everyone has their favorite works of mercy. Maybe caring for the poor was ones most shunned good works in SOUTH AMERICA where he lived. In North America we have more pressing problems like doctrinal problems: e.g. disbelief in the Eucharist, divorce and remarriage without annulment accepted.

    • Augustine

      I quite agree. I think that he’s trying to dialog with non believers, finding common ground and try to lay a foundation to build the true Faith on top. I commend the Pope for attempting this.

      However, as someone not especially assisted by the Holy Spirit like him, I find this approach chock-full with caveats and pitfalls, for a pastoral approach towards an individual is fine, but towards a collective readership of a newspaper interview seems imprudent to me.

      • Howard

        Just like in the hymn! “The Church’s one foundation, is dialog with non-believers!”

        • Augustine

          Indeed, how else to go and make disciples of all nations? Certainly it’s not only in Catholic nations!

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      This kind of thing happened with Benedict XVI and JPII too. I list many examples here:

    • Chesire11

      The problem was that the only people who read Benedict XVI, were the people who already agreed with him.

      Francis is “making a mess,” he is creating a situation in which, the faithful see perfect orthodoxy with fresh eyes, and are startled by some of what we see, and the unchurched see ancient truths and wonder what they mean, giving us, the faithful the opportunity to explain what the Church is, and what it has to say to the world.

      This is the opening for which the New Evangelization has been waiting. People are interested in what the Church has to say, they are asking questions, instead of making accusations. Unfortunately, we are too busy fussing over whether they are asking the “right” questions for the “right” reasons.

      Stop kvetching that they are not coming to us with faiths fully formed and start evangelizing, then we can catechize!

      • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

        Spot on!

  • Rev. Anthony Cekada

    @ Fr Longenecker: “Proselytism is nonsense.” What he probably meant was that the kind of religious emotional blackmail that is sometimes used to gain converts is useless.

    Father, attempting to spin Francis’ remarks back into an orthodox universe is futile at this point. He’s regurgitating the very worst of ’60s modernism (e.g., “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.” “The Son of God became incarnate in the souls of men to instill the feeling of brotherhood.”) Francis is a loose cannon with a loose tongue, and so it’s inevitable that there will be more such doctrinal horrors to come.

    • Nathan718

      Except Pope Francis said neither of those things (e.g., “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.” “The Son of God became incarnate in the souls of men to instill the feeling of brotherhood.”)

      Perhaps one ought to read the original language of the interview prior to condemning the man. Then again maybe I ought not to expect much from a sedevacantist. God bless.

      • Rev. Anthony Cekada

        Nathan, what’s the problem with the translation? I lifted it from the non-sede Rorate site. Whatever you may think of them, they seem to be scrupulous about getting factual issues right.

      • Cassandra

        That is the official english translation offered by the Italian newspaper. If you dispute it, show that it is wrong.

        I’m not a sedevacantist, but what Cekada said is spot on.

        • JoAnna Wahlund

          “official” English translation =/= flawless translation, as has been demonstrated by many others already.

        • Jacob Suggs

          See the two links directly above that do just that.

    • P M

      I agree. For some reason, you seem to be the only one among priests (I assume by your title) who isn’t writing drivel and spin to make the black that Francis says appear to be the white that they want it to be. Whatever your motives, you’re different and thank God there are still a few (one?) of you left.

      • Kevin Tierney

        Well in the case of full disclosure, Fr. Cekada doesn’t believe Francis is Pope. Doesn’t make him right or wrong, just full disclosure. :)

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      It’s sad that you don’t trust the Holy Spirit to guide the Church or the Pope. :(

      • Howard

        Are you denying that the Pope has free will?

        Popes go to confession regularly. Don’t you think they have sins to confess? So what, is it the fault of the Holy Spirit that they sinned?

        The Holy Spirit promises that the Pope will not, in a definitive way, TEACH ERROR. There is no promise WHATSOEVER that the Pope will not be privately in error. For example, when Saints like Thomas Aquinas once did not believe in the Immaculate Conception, very likely there were Popes who likewise disbelieved it. Going further, I see no reason why it would be impossible for a Pope to embrace heresy — AS LONG AS HE DOES NOT TEACH IT. This promise is not there for the benefit of the Pope, but for the benefit of the Church — and it has nothing to do with interviews he gives to newspapers.

        Maybe you would like to accuse St. Paul of not “trusting the Holy Spirit to guide the Church or the Pope” when he rebuked St. Peter?

      • Chesire11

        It is vanity. They like to imagine that they contain the fullness of the faith within themselves. When they hear an aspect of the faith that is new, and foreign to their domesticated church, they find it unsettling, and conclude that the pope is a garrulous old fool, because he doesn’t flatter their vanity. It is the same problem the faithful son had in the parable of the prodigal.

      • Jakie

        There is a hierchy of truths. Ex cathra statements are the ones where the pope is infallible. Papal Encyclicals are to be always given the benefit of the doubt. This is lower than that so I know it does contradict Catholic teaching for him to get things wrong, as usual that may be.

    • Dave Zelenka

      It’s amazing how often people misunderstand the transformative power of obedience–the active, hoping, faithful sort–not dead, despairing, rote sort. It was the lack of obedience which lead Calvin astray. Consider deeply Romans 13. It Calvin’s re-interpretation of Romans 13 that allowed him to justify his split from the Church. It is the obedience of Christ that took him to the cross. It is obedience in him that will take us to our dear and beloved Jesus–as confused and painful as it can be.

    • Jakie

      Then give lots of donations to churches for masses for God to help our Pope.

  • Kevin Tierney

    I think it’s a little simpler. As Evangelists, we announce the royal edict of Christ the King and His good news. As apologists, we provide reason for the hope that resides within us. As catechesists, we teach the ramification of the former.

    Sure, I’d love people to become Catholic. But that isn’t my job. My job is simply to live the Gospel and give it to others, give the reasons for the faith, etc. If I do this going in thinking “I’m going to convert people”, I’m almost certain to be disappointed, as even the greatest of apologists probably only convert maybe 1% of their audience.

    So once you do those things, you also have to take up the cause of the Master: to become the servant. Meet them where you can,and if possible, deal with their current cares and anxieties of the present so a culture receptive to the Gospel is present in their life.

    There’s nothing flashy about that kinda work, and when it succeeds, you won’t see it. And maybe I’m wrong. But I think this is what the Holy Father is getting at.

    • Cassandra

      When you have to start guessing what the Pope means, maybe it’s time to admit there’s a serious problem.

      • Augustine

        With whom?

        • Jakie

          His choice of interview partners.

      • Kevin Tierney

        Okay, want me to be less humble?
        According to the bibllical definitions of an apologists and evangelists, and the definition of a catechist according to St. Pius X’s Acerbo Nimis, yes, that is exactly what the Pope meant, and it’s a sign of being hopelessely biased and like most American Christians (Catholic or Protestant) incredibly ignorant of Scripture when there is confusion.

        • Cassandra

          Your offered definition and whether the Pope actually meant that are two different things.

          Those of us who have watched these things longer than you have learned to “read the signs of the times”. I’d rather be wrong and surprised by Springtime, than surprised by a nasty snowstorm after changing the snow tires too early.

          Prepare to be disappointed.

          • Kevin Tierney

            I’m confused.

            I offered a clear definition of the terms. You didn’t dispute that. You simply said it wasn’t what the Pope “actually” means. Even if the Pope says this or that, it is up to you, who can read “the signs of the times” to tell us what he really means.

            Since when did we become so gnostic and like the wicked and perverse generation of Scripture, looking for a sign, rather than the clear words of the Gospel?

            That’s the difference between traditionalists like myself and trads like you. We rely on the clear teachings of the Scriptures, Tradition and the Magesterium. You rely on hidden codes to tell us what someone “Really” means and the flight path of birds giving signs.

            What am I to be disappointed by? That Francis won’t turn out to be a saint? He probably won’t. Happens very rarely amongst Pontiffs. That he won’t be the best pope ever? Again, not really shocking. That there is a nasty crisis in the Church, and there is a very real chance that nothing Francis does will change that fact? Leo XIII was one of the greatest popes in history, certainly one of the most prophetic. He warned the Church and the world of the coming crisis their errors were leading them to, and he did so with clarity nobody has matched since.

            The world wasted away anyways, and the crisis in the Church came about full steam. That doesn’t take away the fact he is a good pope. Will Francis be that? Who knows. But really, I would more worry about you preparing an understanding of Catholicism 101 before you lecture others to prepare for something everyone already knows is true.

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      Good points, Kevin.
      Within Evangelical circles, there’s a lot of discussion about what’s termed ‘Friendship Evangelism’, but more importantly, the Ethics of it, particularly in terms of the common scalp-hunting mentality, and the complete insincerity of many of these ‘Evangelists’.

      I know several Evangelical women from a ‘fellowship’ who target the elderly and offer home help for nothing – until it’s clear they’re getting nowhere. Then they give the person an ultimatum, and if they don’t join their group, they stop the cleaning, and brush off the proverbial dust…

  • Agni Ashwin

    I thought the Holy Spirit did the converting?

    • Nordog6561

      >>I thought the Holy Spirit did the converting?<<

      cf. "Grace builds upon nature."

      Yes, the Holy Spirit does the converting, but He uses people to do so.

  • Nordog6561

    BINGO! Fr. L for the prize!

  • steve5656546346

    And this from the Pope’s new interview reported today: “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.”

    It’s going to be an interesting ride!

  • jarms40

    “Proselytism is nonsense.” What he probably meant was that the kind of religious emotional blackmail that is sometimes used to gain converts is useless.

    Then why didn’t he say that?

    • Chesire11

      Because, if you know what “proselytism” is, you realize that he DID say it.

  • Jacob Suggs

    I think this distinction between converting people in the sense of going up to them and trying to pummel their mind into the same shape as ours, verses converting people by simply showing and sharing the truth is important and is in fact on display within the interview itself. Pope Francis may not have been crafting his every word for the sheer purpose of changing the reporter’s mind, but you do get this sort of thing:

    Reporter: [Paraphrase] I was Catholic until I started reading works like those of Descartes.
    Pope: Descartes, however, never denied faith in a transcendent God.

    Reporter: I do not believe in the soul.
    Pope: You do not believe in it but you have one.

    As the Pope said himself, he regards such conversations as meetings where “new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.” Honest conversations move people towards the Good, the Truth (ultimately, the Way and the Life as well).

    And while it is true that the Pope said we each have a vision of what is good that we should follow, I suspect he said so because it’s true. Now, some of our visions are more accurate than others, and I suspect that if the pope had also explicitly said that we must work to improve our “vision of the Good,” then some people would have found less to complain about. We might all do well to remember that the Pope is in fact Catholic though, and that as such we have no reason to assume that he disbelieves a true statement just because he didn’t make it when we may have wanted him to.

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      The joy of being Catholic, is that the truth is not a pluralistic soup .We can, as you imply, ‘get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas’, because the Truth is out there, and is not an epistemological construct of my subjective thoughts and commitments.

      • Jacob Suggs

        Indeed. It’s almost like if you seek then you’ll find. In fact, I might actually remember some famous guy saying that.

      • Chesire11

        They joy of being Catholic is the knowledge that Truth is a person (three actually, so it does embrace both unity and plurality) who loves us. That person calls out to us and is perceived by all men, albeit dimly at times. When an unchurched person follows his or her conscience, he or she is responding to that call, and opening him or herself to that Truth, even if they are wrong about the particulars. This first step is utterly prerequisite to faith. Consider where the alternative of NOT following the dictates of even a poorly formed conscience demand!

        Besides, if you have a problem with what Francis said, in an informal interview, you have an even BIGGER problem with what the Catechism has to say about conscience, especially among non-Catholics!

  • cathblax

    Apparently there are Italian/English translation innaccuracies- according to Al Kresta’s interview this afternoon with a translation expert Sr. Ann Flannigan. That doesn’t make things any easier.

  • Anne Flanagan

    I think that by being open, available, person-focused, Pope Francis is actually communicating the very first part of the Good News that our world needs to hear: You are known. You are loved. You are seen as a unique and unrepeatable person.
    I suspect that in an extremely secularized culture like our own (and even more in Italy’s), this is radical and unexpected. People seem to assume that the Church’s stance (and all the more, the Pope’s) is one of disapproval and judgement. Until that assumption is dispelled, how will they ever be open (and vulnerable) enough to listen to what we are preaching?

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen


    • johnnyc

      The Church’s stance is also that we are all sinners, no? It should be anyway. I’m thinking a lot of the secularized culture will never be open to the fact that we are all sinners which is what the Pope should also be preaching. They are not looking for approval of sin…..they don’t think it’s a sin at all. Everything you propose sounds wonderful….eventually though you will have to get to the part that Jesus died for your sins. Huh? What sin? So you might as well lay that on the table right away along with the ‘you are loved’ part. Jesus spoke much about sin, the devil and hell. Out of love. This too is a pastoral approach.

      • Howard

        Bingo. Maybe the next interview will be with someone who is, at the time, as high as a kite.

        Druggy: “My parents are all over my case to stop smoking pot and go to Mass, but I tell ‘em, ‘Hey, it’s my life. If Mass is your thing, fine, but weed makes me one with nature. It’s my church.’”
        Pope Francis: “I think it’s important that Catholics reach out to people like you and let you know that we love you just the way you are.”
        Druggy: “Far out! Want a puff?”

        It’s hard to see how this could really help anyone.

        • duhsciple

          Oh, brother

      • Chesire11

        The Church’s stance is that we are FIRST created children of God in His likeness and image, and that secondarily, through our own disordered desires have fallen from grace and require redemption.

        We evangelize by telling people who forget that fundamental fact about the love of God, which in turn kindles in them Hope, and cognizance of our sins, which offend against the divine love. That’s why saints are more aware of, and pained by their sinfulness than anybody else. For Pete’s sake, the rules worshipers seem to imagine that we must first convince a person that they are offending against a love that they aren’t even aware exists. What possible sense does that make???

        • johnnyc

          50% of Catholics who presumably are aware of God’s love voted for a staunch pro abortion president. I’m guessing the same group probably thinks the sanctity of marriage is no big deal either. Forget about contraception. I can’t remember the last time I heard a homily about sin, the devil and hell. All I’m saying is that the whole Gospel has to be preached. Not one pastoral approach over another. There’s a reason we ask St. Michael to defend us in battle…..

          • Chesire11

            I agree with your point, that we must proclaim the Gospel in
            its entirety, but it seems to me that the whole point of creating man within the arc of time, was to allow the finite mind of man to grapple with the infinite mind of God sequentially, rather than all at once. That means that learning is a progression; we build our understanding over time. Of course, if we stop at the first lesson, and never progress beyond it, that is a deadly problem, but it is not one that is surmountable by expecting people to take on board the implications of a divine mercy, of which they are not yet aware, yet that is precisely the path that our Holy Father’s critics are excoriating him for not taking.

            Also, since you raised the abortion issue, I would point out that 20 years of republican control of the White House under Ronald Reagan and the Bush boys should have made it clear that the POTUS has remarkably little effect on what is fundamentally neither a political, not a legal issue, but springs from a deeper, cultural crisis. Our laws and politics only reflect, they do not give rise to the scourge of abortion. Even so, the 2012 election pitted two pro-choice candidates against each other; there was no pro-life candidate in the race.

          • jle

            I know a few churches I could recommend to you where there is an abundance preached about our sinfulness. For my part, I do much better with gentle correction and encouragement and paternal guidance than I do with fire and brimstone…

          • johnnyc

            Just like everything else in our Catholic Faith it is both/and not either/or. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, Faith and works, etc. In this case compassion and conversion. And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

            but then again our first Pope did pretty well with fire and brimstone. :)

          • jle

            I don’t know why, but the editors deleted my primary response to you in which I was contesting your statement that “50% of Catholics who presumably are aware of God’s love voted for a staunch pro abortion president”. Many people identify themselves as Catholics who neither know what the Church teaches or attend Church on a regular basis.

    • flankus7

      Fine, but that is not the gospel of Christ. Try reading the New Testament.

  • Paul Morphy

    I think Pope Francis should confine his thoughts to written encyclicals only

  • Strife

    It’s amazing how similar this pope sounds to Obama and the Democrat Workers Party: The Culture of Death Advocates.

    • ganganelli

      I get the sense that you’re not happy that the Catholic Church will no longer be used to advance the big business policies of the Republican party.

      • W Meyer

        As opposed to backing the pro-abortion Dems?

        • Chesire11

          The point is that a Catholicism which aligns with either party ain;t Catholic, it is secular

          • Strife

            And yet, your original statement parrots the highly partisan meme of the far-left Democrat Party (which by the way IS the leading platform for secularism)

      • Chesire11

        The Catholic Church has never been aligned with the republican Party…no matter how republicans try to spin it that way. The Church is neither Democratic, nor republican; neither liberal, nor conservative. Those are merely ways of ordering things according to the values of the world. The Church is Catholic, and that is something entirely different.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Really? Can you point out where Pope Francis has celebrated, encouraged, and condoned abortion? Or where he has called babies “punishments”?

  • DoctorDJ

    Congratulations, Dwight, you are now more Catholic than the Pope!

  • Joe

    I think it is utterly amazing how the “Catholic elite” is attempting to justify the disastrous comments of this pope. Let us not forget Peter himself denied Christ and Judas betrayed him. Our Lord never guaranteed that the “rock” on which he would build his Church would be always faithful and holy. I think we may have to face that after two very holy, solid popes, we now have at best a mediocre one.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Yes, loving sinners is so mediocre. Jesus would not approve.

      • Howard

        Jesus would want to convert the sinner. Francis said he didn’t.

        • Jacob Suggs

          It is “proselytization” he wants to avoid. Readeth the interview and some of the other things he has said for context of what Pope Francis means when he talks, and see this link to see what the difference is between those words.

          • Howard

            Readeth the interview thyself. Thy link is NOT to the transcript, which perchance thou hast not yet read.

            “Your Holiness, you said that you have no intention of trying to convert me and I do not think you would succeed.”

            “We cannot know that, but I don’t have any such intention.”

    • Chesire11

      Perhaps the mediocrity does not reside in our Holy Father, who has been scrupulously orthodox in all of his statements. Perhaps some of us mistake our own domesticated “pet” church for orthodoxy, and prefer it to the genuine article…you know, sort of the way liberals did after the Second Vatican Council?

  • johnnyc

    Our first Pope did pretty good being direct and to the point with another corrupt generation….even mentions sin whaddya know.

    Acts 2:38-41

  • Dave Zelenka

    When the tsunami comes, do you just explain carefully with the folks at the beach? No. You tell them the fact that a big wave is coming to get them and you explain clearly and quickly to run to the highest point as soon as possible. Should it be any different when we evangelize? In fact, if are wishy-washy and don’t care how our friends and neighbors choose, do we really believe it? We must speak to others with authority, just like Christ did. It should be done both loudly and assertively on the street corner and quietly like a woman comforting a grieving mother.

    • Jakie

      I don’t think that most Catholics care if their friends go to hell for rejecting the church. They just don’t want to deal with a friend annoyed at them for caring.

  • Phoenix_Lion

    I see orthodox Catholics being blinded by pride. If we can’t see the mission of the Church is to love and not condemn sinners, then we are not following Jesus Christ. He did not condemn the sinners He welcomed them with open arms and once they felt His love for them they were able to say yes to Him and no to their sins.

    We have to remember that Vatican II was inspired by the Holy Spirit and it takes time for councils to be properly understood. God has placed before us a man who is trying to show us what It was all about.

    • Alex Cooper

      When did it become pride to call a spade a spade? Our Lord and John the Baptist didn’t skirt around the issues of sin, they condemned them and called for repentance. That’s real love.

      Since when does evangelizing mean speaking ambiguously so as not to offend people, and dancing around hard truths? What happened to let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no?

      In the first interview he referred to 20th century Thomism as “theologically bankrupt.”

      In the first interview he reiterated again his desire to adopt the Eastern Orthodox practice of giving communion to divorced and remarried couples, which in Catholic theology means giving Holy Communion to people in objective mortal sin.

      In his latest interview, he spoke lovingly of Cardinal Carlos Martini. On another occasion he had called this deceased Cardinal, “a father for the whole Church,” whose teaching was, “prophetic.” Cardinal Carlos Martini was a supporter of civil unions who said the Church was 200 years out of date. Even with the thickest rose colored glasses, there is no question what kind of a Pope we have been given.

      Also in the new interview he says; “The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

      After getting over the irony of announcing his great humility, it dawned on me, “so much for the hermeneutic of continuity.”

      Time to pull our head out of the sand, and start really thinking and praying hard about how we got here. Something has gone terribly wrong.

      “The most evident mark of God’s anger, and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world, is manifest when He permits His people to fall into the hands of a clergy who are more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than the charity and affection of devoted shepherds. They abandon the things of God to devote themselves to the things of the world and, in their saintly calling of holiness, they spend their time in profane and worldly pursuits. When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people and is visiting His most dreadful wrath upon them.”- Saint John Eudes

      Pray for the world’s conversion. Pray my conversion. Pray for your own. And pray for the Pope too.

      God help us all.

    • Jakie

      We aren’t condemning we’re just pointing out God’s standard’s without lowering them to the culture’s.

  • Cassandra

    Every time the Pope speaks or acts, you neo-cats must go immediately into damage control. Maybe it’s time to admit that there is deep crisis going all the way to the top. Maybe, just maybe, the greatest crisis in the Church is not, as the Pope just said, unemployed youth and loneliness amoung the old, but rather the hierarchy.

    • Chesire11

      Maybe the crisis is one of pride. Maybe, some of the faithful prefer to imagine that they have nothing left to learn, and that being told that conversion is an ongoing, ever deepening process, not a single act they have already ticked off of their “to do” list is uncomfortable.

      What a small and sterile faith that would be.

    • Jacob Suggs

      You spelled “every time someone misrepresents what the pope says” wrong.

  • Anita Lay

    Just like the American president, Pope Francis is apparently a communist. We can only hope the damage over which he will preside will be limited. The Kenyan in the White House leaves office on January 20, 2017. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he likely will be succeeded by Hillary Clinton, another communist. But that is a discussion for another day.

    As for the Church – it has survived, despite other reprobates occupying the Chair of St. Peter. I find comfort in one thing, and only one thing: The words of Christ: “The gates of hell shall not prevail.”

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Where has Pope Francis espoused Communism?

    • Chesire11

      Anita, I am very sorry. My initial response to you would have been uncharitable. I am sincerely sorry, and ask for your forgiveness and prayers.

    • Jakie

      Yep. In Matthew 16 (in the bible) says Peter (Rock in latin) was the foundation on which He will build His church. If the foundation of my own house crumbled then my house would go down with it. No successor of Peter then no Church built by Christ. So we’re okay.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    To me, you seem to be saying that’s why we believe in Theosis, Sacraments, and the Metaphysical transformation they bring about, aren’t you? Christianity is not just a change in lifestyle, but a real substantial change in our nature.
    It’s not so much a conversion as a transformation. That is why it can’t be effected fully by an altar-call or saying ‘the sinner’s prayer’.

    As an Evangelical, I was ‘sinful’ – full of sin – and could, and would, never be, any other. The so-called Evangelist ‘convicted’ me of my sin, and conversion was a change of lifestyle as it couldn’t be anything else. At best, I was a puppet of grace. When I look back on it, Prayer Meetings were more like seances, especially the Charismatic ones, and God’s working through people was perceived more like that of a spirit through a Medium. The Holy Spirit ‘within me’ was a Homunculus, like the Wizard of Oz.

    Therefore, to my mind, you simply weren’t trying to ‘convert’ your Evangelical friend in terms he would have understood, nor using the same ‘in your face’ criteria. You weren’t trying to ‘convict’ him. Stirred up passions and zeal are no guaranteed sign of conversion, nor is the acceptance of a watertight argument. It’s why they can’t accept Transubstantiation – Jesus under the appearance of bread – to my mind. They are thorough-going empiricists. (Dr David Anders makes a similar point in his podcast interview on Called to Communion about the outward signs the Puritans began to require as ‘proof’ in the absence of sacraments.)

    In fact, in religion, I find ‘signs’ thoroughly Modernist. Things in the realm of sensation (sense data, and sensationalism) and groupthink, and things constantly sought to validate one’s ongoing commitment. The ‘innocence of ‘that moment I first believed’ is often something an Evangelical constantly tries to recapture, sometimes obsessively. It’s an obsession with interiority – what I think Pope Francis means by the ‘narcissism’ to be found in any religion that bases itself on feelings and interior psychological phenomena. Latin Mass addicts, included. How much of the Latin mass ‘thing’ is merely the expression of a preference? If the Latin Mass is going to be ‘taken away’ from you, and you get really anxious, how much is it more of a Linus’ blanket? Yes, we are fed by the Eucharist, but the OF is just as valid a Mass. If the form is essential, are we not becoming Integrists, seeing form as more essential than substance?

    I just can’t believe St Francis de Sales was anything like a 16th Century Billy Graham. It is one thing to quote the bible and other authorities and move man like a salesman. It is another to understand the heart of man and so move him in the core of his being.

  • douglas kraeger

    I of coarse agree. I say that if we do not want to help someone come to believe the Faith we have then we do not really love them, we do not want to sacrifice to bring them the best. My approach is to ask people, “Do you want to believe everything that God wants everyone to know and believe, whatever that reasonable ‘number’ of things is? They can not say ‘no’ because then they are saying they do not want to know that which God wants them to know. So they have to say yes and then they realize that they probably need to work harder at that and then I try to ask a question for them to find God’s answer to it.

  • Michael

    I am really upset. I couldn’t sleep last night. Maybe that’s too much information but I love the Pope above my family and my life.

    I was baptised in 2006. Since then I’ve started my career in academia. You could say I’m a young, lay, articulate Catholic. I really believe in making a difference in my career. I’m using my talents (thanks, Pope Francis!) and doing research in a way that is an alternative to relativism. I don’t know that I will ever be famous and it is a drop in the ocean, but I continue this way following my conscience, and wanting to support my family, colleagues and students.

    I’ve been so blessed to draw upon the teachings of the previous Popes in my work. I don’t research/teach theology (although I’ve read a lot); a bit of philosophy comes into it, but I am working in the human sciences where relativism is rampant. Therefore I’m trying to steer people back to objective ideas of reality.

    I’ve actually given myself as completely as I know in my work to helping students who come to me confused by the readings others have set them, guiding them back, giving them pointers towards objective truth. I have had to develop unique approaches in my research so as to avoid relativist theories or methods. To some extent, this has given my publications a bit of originality which people like, but the more marked effect is I’ve curtailed a lot of choices as to what positions I take, where I work, feeling it necessary to do what I think is right (“following my conscience” – but in this case my intellectual convictions are very much informed by the Church and the moral obligation I see to seek truth and not work against it [see Dignitatis Humanae]).

    I’m upset because the statements on conscience were very close to the line, and because the near commendation of liberation theologians and nods towards reading Marxist texts goes against, well, my life’s work. I have been guiding all of these students to help them not become despairing as a result of subjectivism. I’ve done it in the heart of the Church (not an extremist in any way) and in the heart of my job (I get on really well with my colleagues). And while I understand that God has every right to throw away my life’s work and that it is Heaven that I’m working for (there can be a fair few attachments in academia), I really thought that my work was important in its own sphere, was faithful and was not extremely dogmatic. I do not teach the students dogmas – as I say, I am not a teacher of theology, although I read the catechism and study doctrine in my free time, but what I do teach is informed by by faith – my rejection of relativism, my conviction that reason precedes faith, my belief in the university, my reading of the previous Popes. Please, please, I pray, can the Holy Father teach against relativism? I feel like all my efforts are nothing and I’ve given my all in my job to build up His Kingdom.

  • Howard

    “What he probably meant was ….” So once again, the trumpet has given an uncertain sound. Who then will prepare himself to the battle?

  • Mike Gannome

    Wow, Father, you are quite the spin-doctor. And quite a mind-reader. Putting totally different words in the Pope’s mouth. It is irresponsible of the pope to speak this way, which is obviously confusing, deficient and misleading. He is diminishing the Church and its teachings.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Talk about putting words in the Pope’s mouth! Ah, irony.

  • Anne

    Frank Duff the founder of the Legion of Mary said ‘the antidote to hedonism, indifference and proselytism was a spiritual renewal of the Catholic Faith and a new and vigorous evangelisation’.
    Please pray for Fr. Kevin Doran who has resigned from the Mater Hospital Board in Dublin over its acceptance of abortion which goes against its ethos. And also pray for the Archbishop of Dublin and all our Bishops in Ireland. Thank you Fr. Dwight.

    • Howard

      I’m guessing he meant proselytism by Protestants, since he distinguishes it from evangelization. In English at least, proselytizing has a negative connotation. One thing I have not heard anyone mention is what its connotation is in Italian.

  • AugustineThomas

    Tell this to Jose..

  • Caspar

    I generally approached people along these line:

    “I don’t really care if you convert or not. It’s not up to me–it’s entirely between you and God. If he wants you to convert, he’ll cause you to convert. We’ll still be friends, because I enjoy your company. I like talking to you and doing things with you. I would be happy if you became Catholic, because I think it’s true and entirely a good thing to be Catholic–if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be one. But I’m not in this for a conversion.”

    And I meant it, too. They always looked very thoughtful for a moment after I said it, then relieved, and then we tended to be able to talk about anything. A few people I said something like this to have even become Catholic or returned to the faith, or have said that if they ever went back to organized religion, they’d become Catholic. People seem to often just be really uneasy that if someone visibly religious is talking about their religion at all or being friendly while being openly religious, they’re convert hunting and not wanting to be friends for the sake of being friends.

    • Howard

      Maybe in another situation you could use this: “I don’t really care if you sniff glue or not. We’ll still be friends either way, only if you keep doing this, you won’t be able to use language. You may not even be able to pump blood. Not that I really care, mind you. That’s the kind of friend I am.”

      • Jakie

        Great comparison.

    • kenofken

      As a non-Christian, I have to complement you for recognizing a point we struggle to convey to Christian friends. Friendship, real friendship, cannot have an agenda, and it cannot exist without a baseline of respect for the other person’s conscience and a presumption that they are able to be in charge of their own spiritual journey. If you see me as an unrealized convert or a broken spirit you need to fix, I’m not your friend. I’m a sales lead, a mark. I will never have the confidence that you are interested in me for me rather than a means to an end, an outcome.

      It’s a toxic dynamic, and one that leads many of us to sharply curtail our interactions with Christians or to approach them with a high degree of suspicion and mistrust. It sometimes causes us to question whether productive interfaith dialogue with Christians is even possible. It’s fair game, I think, to tell the other person where you’re coming from and to extend an invitation to come to a Mass (or whatever), once. If they decline and you keep at it, it starts to feel like you’re working an angle, not a friendship.

  • Mariana Baca

    Well, yes, the ultimate goal is conversion. But a conversation might go on forever if our only *immediate* goal is conversion and that can lead to frustration. And if we place conversion over and above a search for truth, there is a temptation to use lies or manipulation to effect conversion. There is also the logical leap that if we agree to this discussion, conversion follows. Which if we are debating one point of something, that is not true.

    It would be more accurate to say: I want you to convert, but I’m not necessarily having this conversation with the only ulterior motive of your conversion. I want you to understand the truth I’m trying to impart in this conversation. I’m trying to be charitable in this conversation. Etc.

    Also, the idea that *I* can convert someone is a bit presumptuous. There is a big helping of their free will and an even large helping of God’s grace there. And people are put off, as if you are just trying to add a point to your score card. They must be treated first as a person in search of the truth.

    So yes and no. I want them to convert, like I want everyone to convert. But I’m talking to you to accomplish all those intermediate steps, first.

  • JoAnna Wahlund

    To all the negative Nellies:

    “2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should
    be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts,
    words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable
    interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he
    cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the
    latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If
    that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring
    the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.” (CCC)

    Please ask yourself if you abiding by these words before calling for Pope Francis’ head on a platter.

    • Jakie

      Thanks for the reminder.

  • Apotheoun

    “On the other hand, what does it mean to ‘convert’ someone? If by ‘convert’ we mean to play spiritual and mental games with the person to manipulate them into a state of confusion and fear so that they will accept our religion, then this is not true conversion. In a recent interview Pope Francis said, ‘Proselytism is nonsense.’ What he probably meant was that the kind of religious emotional blackmail that is sometimes used to gain converts is useless.”

    I hope that is what Pope Francis meant, but I have major doubts based upon the structure of the conversation. To me it really looks like Pope Francis has no interest in converting Mr. Scalfari at all.

  • cminca

    Instead of telling me you are a Christian and trying to convert me–why don’t you attempt to SHOW me you’re a Christian?

  • Jakie

    I’m so happy that protestant said that! Please just dialoguing bothers me. It means that we don’t care if they stay in schism. Schism, according to the CCC, is a sin.

  • flankus7

    Its like we are followers of Jim Jones’ of People Temple, we are doing all kinds of mental gymnastics to try to find his words acceptable. As far as I know there is nothing in Catholic doctrine concerning the Pope that would prevent him from saying very bad, confusing, and incorrect things in an interview with a reporter.

  • Dicky Flynn

    I am new to this site. Just posted an item. I read the other day somewhere that maybe Pope Francis will wake up some morning and just get on with his day, lots of work over there to be sure. Maybe he will decide that perhaps he shouldn’t say anything on this particular day that he wakes up, and give all persons in the Catholic Church a chance to catch their breath. Canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II would most assuredly collect all hands of the results of the Vatican Council II, those in a forward ‘mode’ and those ‘otherwise’. I hope prayerfully that the cononizatrions of both predecesors of Pope Francis are truly spiritually and not in any sense politically motivated. Viva Jesus!

  • marciel marcial

    over last several months it’s been fun to watch Catholics struggling to prove the Pope did not actually say what he said, on almost daily basis:)

    • FW Ken

      The pope actually said what he said.
      A lot of people don’t like what he said and prattle on about “off-the-cuff” comments.
      A lot of people are incapable of hearing anything that isn’t an echo of their own interests, prejudices, and fears.
      A lot of people extrapolate his words out “to infinity and beyond” (like the pizza cartoonn).

      Finally, and I think this is the sickest of all: a lot of people blame the pope because the news media and left wing religious types distort his words.