Advocating a new outreach strategy for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has said that speech should never be used in order to convince a non-believer of the truths of the Catholic Faith.
Francis made these remarks while addressing the students of Rome’s Pilo Albertelli classical secondary school last Friday (Dec 20).
“Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing,” Francis said. “If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, they are not a disciple of Jesus.”
“In front of an unbeliever, the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never. The last thing I have to do is speak,” Francis said. Instead, he stressed, “I have to live consistent with my faith. And it will be my testimony to awaken the curiosity of the other who says: ‘But why do you do this?’ And yes, I can speak then.”
Francis made a reference to the crusades and conversion by the sword, calling it “shameful” and noting that Christians too across the globe are persecuted for their faith.
Recounting the forced conversion of Muslims, “This happened in history! … What happened here to me is shameful because it is a story of forced conversion, of disrespect for the dignity of the person.”
“We are not in the times of the crusades,” he said. “… ‘Either the baptism or the sword.’ This has happened in history! They also do it with us Christians in other parts, they are also doing it but what we did was shameful because it is a story of forced conversion, of not respecting the dignity of the person.”
Speaking of own personal experience from his native country of Argentina, Francis said. “In Argentina there is a small group of closed-minded Catholics who do not want Jews, do not want Muslims, but this group … I have never liked it, is a group that is on the fringe, they have a cultural magazine but they do not have impact in society.”
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