Can Catholics Proselytize?


#1

I was at a church meeting last night, and a deacon said that we are not supposed to proselytize. Meaning, we should not proselytize non-Catholics to become Catholic.

pros·e·lyt·ize/ˈpräsələˌtīz/
Verb:

Convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.
Advocate or promote (a belief or course of action): "Davis wanted to proselytize his ideas".

I assume that is bunk (so no need to convince me that it's ok - but do let me know if you think it is correct proselytizing is to be avoided). Where can I find a refutation in official church teachings? I don't intend to be combative - but just have my facts together if I'm in a similar situation down the road.


#2

Hope this helps:


#3

This document is a bit confusing. But, the key elements for me are:

It is also the task of every member of the faithful, above all by means of prayer, penance, study and cooperation. Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith.

More recently, however, the term proselytize] has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.

So, we are to share the faith - but do it in a spirit that is consistent with the spirit of the Gospel.


#4

[quote="in_servitude, post:3, topic:303146"]
This document is a bit confusing. But, the key elements for me are:

So, we are to share the faith - but do it in a spirit that is consistent with the spirit of the Gospel.

[/quote]

Correct.


#5

The Church doesn't really use the term "proselytize" in official Church documents. As the excerpt above says, the word has pretty negative connotations nowadays.

I tend to say we are called to evangelize, not proselytize. Proselytism carries connotations of im*posing our beliefs and trying to *force people to convert. Evangelization is about pro*posing our beliefs and *inviting people to conversion. It's an important distinction.

But, yeah, if you just go by the dictionary definition, proselytizing and evangelizing sound interchangeable.


#6

The Church certainly prefers- especially in the case of the laity- an invitational tone. You’d be surprised how many people are just looking for an invitation: e.g., to attend the Mass or an RCIA program: they are already disposed to hear, listen or consider but what they feel they need is a formal invitation from a member of the community: they already have a disposition to believe and, in such cases, it is no longer an intellectual matter, and if we act like it is we can inadvertently turn people off, as it were. These people, internally or as it were secretly, won’t understand why we are pressing the credulity of the faith upon them. These people will ask questions as they come up: we just need to be willing to listen and understand and, hopefully, at least direct them to the competent sources or people who can provide them with the answers they are seeking.


#7

[quote="in_servitude, post:1, topic:303146"]
I was at a church meeting last night, and a deacon said that we are not supposed to proselytize. Meaning, we should not proselytize non-Catholics to become Catholic.

I assume that is bunk (so no need to convince me that it's ok - but do let me know if you think it is correct proselytizing is to be avoided). Where can I find a refutation in official church teachings? I don't intend to be combative - but just have my facts together if I'm in a similar situation down the road.

[/quote]

"Can" and "should" are two different things. Can we proselytize? Of course we can! Anyone can proselytize. Should we? I agree with the deacon, we should not. A lot of us are caught in this "counter-reformation" mindset that we need to respond to what the Protestants are doing by doing to them what they are doing to us. We should focus on true conversion, because proselytizing isn't a good way to get converts anyway. They might convert, but chances are they won't be firm in the faith and will highly probably fall away from the faith not long after.


#8

Do you agree with the CDF when it says:

It is also the task of every member of the faithful, above all by means of prayer, penance, study and cooperation. Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith.

?

I would like to hear how you’d go about “true conversion.” Is it done by simply sharing your faith and gifts?


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