Proselytism to Jews and Muslims?

  1. I remember something recent from The Vatican that said Catholics should not proselytize Jews. I don’t remember why. Please explain why.

  2. What about Muslims? They are sure going after our fellow Christians. What is our approach to them?

In my opinion most of what is meant by “do not proselytize” has more to do with method rather than substance. We are called to always preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the question is how.

As the recent Catholic-Jewish joint statement read:

While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah…

Judaism and Christianity share so many things in common that it would be strange to lump them in with other religions. Catholics should also be ready to give example of our faith through our lives and choices and also always be willing to help explain our Catholic faith to Jewish persons. However an active evangelizing of them ignores our shared history and theology. It is also rather insensitive given the history of forced conversions and persecution of Jewish people.

When it comes to Islam, there is a much different relationship between our faith and theirs. Other than broad general concepts there is not that much in common between the two faiths. But, once again, in certain parts of the world active explicit evangelization could be seen as needlessly provocative. And, once again, that doesn’t mean we need to shrink from defending or explaining the Catholic faith to others.

We should always remember that faith is not solely a work of man. It is first and foremost a gift from God:

153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”. Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”

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