Pope Francis Condemns Evangelism? Absolutely Not!

Pope Francis Condemns Evangelism? Absolutely Not! January 1, 2020

In one address (7-26-14), Pope Francis distinguishes apologetics and evangelization from proselytization:

Dialogue is so important, but to dialogue two things are necessary: one’s identity as a starting point and empathy toward others. If I am not sure of my identity and I go to speak, I end up bartering my faith. You cannot dialogue without starting from your own identity, and empathy, which is a priori not condemning. Every man, every woman has something of their own to give us; every man, every woman has their own story, their own situation and we have to listen to it. Then the prudence of the Holy Spirit will tell us how to respond. Start from your own identity in order to dialogue, but a dialogue is not doing apologetics, although sometimes you must do so, when we are asked questions that require an explanation. Dialogue is a human thing. It is hearts and souls that dialogue, and this is so important! Do not be afraid to dialogue with anyone. It was said of a saint, joking somewhat — I do not remember, I think it was St Philip Neri, but I’m not sure — that he was able to dialogue even with the devil. Why? Because he had that freedom to listen to all people, but starting from his own identity. He was so sure, but being sure of one’s identity does not mean proselytizing. Proselytism is a trap, which even Jesus condemns a little, en passant, when he speaks to the Pharisees and the Sadducees: “You who go around the world to find a proselyte and then you remember that…”. [blue emphases and bolding added]

For those who ridiculously contend that Pope Francis denounces evangelism, because he decries proselytism (as anyone should), here is the contrary evidence [just from the years 2013-2014] (search “evangel” in each post):

 
 
 
 
 
Excerpt:
Building bridges to proclaim the Gospel, “this was the Paul’s outlook in Athens: build a bridge to their hearts, and then take a step further and proclaim Jesus Christ”. Paul followed the attitude of Jesus, who spoke to everyone, “he heard the Samaritan woman… ate with the Pharisees, with sinners, with publicans, with doctors of the law. Jesus listened to everyone and when he said a word of condemnation, it was at the end, when there was nothing left to do”. But Paul, too, was “aware that he must evangelize, not proselytize”. The Church “does not grow by proselytizing, as Benedict XVI has told us, but grows by attracting people, by its witness, and by its preaching”.
It’s all there, right here: ecumenism, with a simultaneous evangelization, which is not proselytizing. It’s absolutely false to pretend that in condemning the latter, the pope is also condemning the former.
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These examples are quite sufficient. Many further ones can be found in simple searches at the “The Holy See” website.
 
Related Reading:

Dialogue: Pope Francis Doesn’t Evangelize? [4-29-16]

Is Pope Francis Against Apologetics & Defending the Faith? [11-26-19]

Debate: Pope Francis on Doctrine, Truth, & Evangelizing (vs. Dr. Eduardo Echeverria) [12-16-19]

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Did Pope Francis just say that evangelization is “nonsense”? 8 things to know and share  (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 10-1-13)

Pope Francis on “Proselytism” (Jimmy Akin, Catholic Answers blog, 10-21-13)

Did Pope Francis just diss apologists? 9 things to know and share (Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 3-9-14)

When Pope Francis rips ‘proselytism,’ who’s he talking about? He really may not be talking about, or to, Catholics at all (John L. Allen, Jr., Crux, 1-27-15)

Francis: Evangelize by Example, not Pushing Your Faith on Others (Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, Through Catholic Lenses, 12-23-19)

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(originally posted on 10-17-16, on Facebook)
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Photo credit: Dave Armstrong with Steve Dawson: founder of St. Paul Street Evangelization (July 2013). I edited many of the tracts that they pass out.
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