Pope Francis on "attraction" instead of "proselytizing"

Pope Francis has made several statements that decry “proselytizing” and stated that the Catholic Church should instead draw people into the fold through “attraction.” Can someone explain this distinction to me? Does this mean that the Catholic Church becomes a sort of “Peace Corps for Jesus” that goes about doing good but never proclaims the Gospel outside of the church doors? How about all of the apostolic activities that went on in the book of Acts (e.g.preaching to large outdoor crowds, etc.)–would those be considered proselytizing? I know that proselytizing is kind of a loaded word that has some bad connotations–one immediately pictures the holy-roller guy at work reading his Bible and preaching to disinterested secular-minded coworkers in the break room every day at lunch. However, how does one discern that one has crossed the line from “attraction” to “proselytizing?” Are there any Catholics out there who disagree with these statements from the Pope?

I think of the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Emphasize the positive, not the negative. People should see us and say, “See how they love each other,” not, “See how they fight and threaten one another.” At least, this is how I see Pope Francis’ approach, and I agree with it.

First. Thank you for bringing this up. I have been curious about “proselytizing” since landing on CAF where someone was trying very hard to pull me away from Catholicism.

Unfortunately, I have not kept up with Pope Francis; thus, I have missed his statements that decry “proselytizing”. However, I will bet that what the Pope is saying is not this type of approach. – “Does this mean that the Catholic Church becomes a sort of “Peace Corps for Jesus” that goes about doing good but never proclaims the Gospel outside of the church doors?”

Actually, when we are doing good in the spirit of Our Lord, we should be proclaiming His presence. Often Our Lord added “words” to His healing actions. For example, “Where are the other nine?” which is proclaiming the Good News that the Messiah is present and wants all to come to Him to be healed both physically and spiritually. Luke 17: 11-19

Can anyone help with links to the Pope’s words on this?
I wish by “attraction” he was suggesting a new series of short “retreats/open houses” that could be offered several time a year world-wide to invite non-Catholics (and I think separately for inactive Catholics) into parishes, schools, hospitals, and even monasteries for discussion of Catholic “philosophy,” “vocations–both lay and vows,” and our Way of Life. These would be pre-RCIA inquiry, but of course focused to encourage people to the inquiry sessions of RCIA.
I suspect Opus Dei may now come closest to the type “attraction” I’m imagining, although the Jesuit lay program CLC may also be close. I wish I were aware of others. It seems to me very sad that CLCs closed in some Diocese.

Keep in mind that Pope Francis often makes statements opposing one extreme, but at other times he makes statements against the other extreme; his statements tend to get taken out of context, like Christ’s statements in the gospels. (Francis is in good company!)

At times Francis, like other popes, cautions against proselytizing, sometimes called sheep-stealing. Proselytizing was especially a problem in South America, where Protestant sects come in, build a chapel next to the Catholic Church, and try to persuade RC parishioners to switch over to them. This isn’t really evangelism, which the pope strongly favors.

At other times the pope has warned against making Christianity into a vague humanitarianism, devoid of dogma or personal conversion. More than any other recent pope, he has pointed out that we are in a spiritual battle, both as individuals and as a Church, battling against satanic powers. But of course proselytism, which relies on my persuasiveness rather than the Cross for results, is what he cautions against.

One thing is certain: the Francis papacy has not resulted in any statistical significance of converts to the faith nor increased Mass attendance.

May I respectfully request the citations for this research? Thank you.

May all of you have a Merry Christmas
as we celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth.

[FONT=Arial]Lorenzo Lotto, 1523[/FONT]

Wow Rosslyn, that one little sentence sure let everyone else know exactly how you feel about Papa Francis. Twenty-one months into his papacy, it would be extremely difficult to find legit data on the “Francis Effect”. My personal observations, however, indicate that having a pastor for the world is not a terrible thing! His reforms regarding Cardinals that ran their own private fifedoms is beyond welcome.

That’s mostly up to you and me (I assume you are a layperson, like me). We need to invite people who have not been to Mass lately, to join us. We need to write a thank you note, and copy to the bishop, when we know of a priest who consistently lifts up our mind and heart to God. I leave copies of reliable Catholic magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms. I also volunteer at a very orthodox, devout Catholic school - had to take some effort to find one. On my facebook page I try to briefly put some ideas out there to affirm orthodox thinking - quotes by G. K. Chesterton are always good; Mother Theresa also. If I write long rants with my own opinion, people stop reading my facebook page.

I deeply admire Pope Benedict - arguably the most important person in the past century - for his work in (partially) restoring Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy during the previous, and his own, papacy. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a very different Pope, whose teaching is constantly taken out of context, and most of what he says is totally ignored by the secular media. He challenges me to change in different ways. People who are focused on evaluating Pope Francis (positive or negative) tend not to benefit from his call to conversion.

I’m not sure, but my ‘take’ on what he’s trying to say is we need to gently invite others in, not force them. It’s easy to get over-excited and press the issue but that can turn folks off. We have to remember free will. People listen better if they are given the opportunity, rather than being coerced.

Strange, my post on the definition in my big Webster is missing??? I came back to add this good post by TimothyH on May 5:

Evangelizing is proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the Good News. It was commanded by Christ.

Proselytizing is trying to convert. Proselytizing was condemned by our Holy Father. en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013…lls/en1-690203.

Sadly, I messed up my sound card, or setting, trying to hook up a headset, so I can’t verify what Pope Francis says here, but I am quite sure I read some other discussion somewhere.

Pope Francis preaches the good news. But he also has reached out to specific individuals, to encourage them to … well… convert.

There needs to be a balance here. Sometimes Catholics, or people in other religions, get too focused on “getting people into the church”, to boost our numbers. That’s not good. On the other extreme, there are many today who claim all the Church needs to do is help the poor, be open minded to everyone’s feelings, make everyone feel comfortable, and equal. That kind of a cross-less, non-doctrinal Christianity - “Have a nice day!”, “I’m ok, you’re ok” Christianity is no good either.

Christ and the apostles preached the truth in general, and they also opened the door to conversion to individuals. Some accepted. Some did not. Based on Pope Francis’ teaching in general, he also believes in the importance of inviting (in love) persons toward salvation. We should do no less.

That’s because you’re not paying attention to what is important.


While a lot of people leave the Church, they tend not to be good Catholics, says Curtis Martin, president of Catholics United for the Faith, who himself returned to the Church after spending five years as an evangelical Protestant. The Protestants [now] coming into the Church are the most devoted Protestants, people deeply committed to Scripture and prayer. Were losing the numbers game but we are winning the quality game in spades.

Pope Francis’s election was one of the reasons I converted to Catholicism. I was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 2014. There were 11 other converts in my RCIA group.

As for inviting others to sample our faith, I hold with St. Francis of Assisi – “Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words.”

While I myself have some sort of fears for the pope being the Anti Christ…I understand the wisdom of what he is saying. In the ministry many are turned of by proselytizing Christians. The easy way is to proselytize but the hard way is patience and respect for people’s freewill. St Francis of assisi would say "preach the gospel. Use words when necessary.

I mean I believe what the pope is deeply saying is that we should preach by means of Witness…the witness of our lives…When one is cold, impatient, judgmental and closed off in the ministry–that would shun many sheeps…but when one is accepting, listening, kind and open the dialogue the sheeps are likely to see Jesus in that person

Living in the Bible Belt, I aim to show something interesting/ unanticipated about Catholicism and Scripture. I get what the pope means; making it happen is the rub. Ideally Francis would have given a couple of examples.

I know this thread is a little old, but it was exactly what I was looking for… an explanation to the Pope’s secret to happiness list, in not prosetylising.

It baffles me that he would say such a thing. Where is the conviction that the Catholic Church is the One true Church of God?

Seems to me that if you truly believed this, you would try to persuade as many people as possible to see the truth also and if you were obedient to the Church and the seven spiritual works of mercy, you would do all you could to show them the truth. I dont mean by getting into heated arguments, but just gently pointing out facts. Would that be considered 'prosetylising"?

I do think it is dangerous to say such ambiguous things so that people have to try very hard to work it out and put a positive spin on it.

The seven spiritual works of mercy state the opposite.

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy
Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporeal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering. The latter works are traditionally enumerated thus:

To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To admonish sinners.
To bear wrongs patiently.
To forgive offences willingly.
To comfort the afflicted.
To pray for the living and the dead

To be honest, I find his ideas of how to be happy, very vague and somewhat strange.
And to say something that people will take as ‘that we should not spread the gospel’
seems to me to be the opposite of what Christ told us to do.

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