The Holy Father on unity

The Holy Father seems to say we should stop attempts at apologetics. Am i misunderstanding this?

I was wondering what the heck you were talking about until I came across this paragraph:

“So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit.”

And now I see why you ask your question.

The pairing of “polemical” (which means harshly critical) with “apologetic” suggests that the Pope is referring to the type of apologetics which is not allowed on this Forum (and which will get you banned) - nasty, sniping behavior. The kind of thing you would find on every day.

I’m sure the Holy Father does not mean to discourage respectful and reasoned dialogue about religious differences, especially when people come to us (Catholics) with these questions. Every non-Catholic that is here came here willingly.

He holds up the example of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (a Jewish heretic) to encourage us to engage with those whose beliefs differ from ours.

Apologetics has become not only a contact sport but a huge industry.

“Christian unity will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions,”

He is absolutely right. I quit the adult faith formation ministry at my parish because it was barely more than coaching sessions on how to win theology arguments with Protestants. We need more Christian witness.

What my life was like before I met Jesus
How I met Jesus
What my life is like now that I know Jesus

That’s Christian witness. Paul does it three times in Acts of the Apostles.


Blessed John Henry Newman, on his first months in Rome, was approached by a very influential nobleman who was eager to see the Anglicans visiting Rome reach home. A prominent young English woman who had just died before converting and he strong-arm ed Newman into preaching a funeral sermon which was the very sort of thing to dissuade prospective converts. Mean was absolute horrified but he could hardly public ally reveal that he had been pressured to do so. It is hard to look out on the world of many people who are walking blithely along thinking themselves safe when we want to bring our resources to bear to tell them that their sins might take them any moment; and sadly it's not very hard to persuade people that statements on unity are universalism ill-cloaked. But the most brilliant of apologists did not bring all the sheep into the fold; Chesterton, the best in the language, always thought the best of individuals while seeing his natal confession going off the rails.

Well said.


I think so. Pope Francis has encouraged apologetics several times, as documented here:

I agree with the poster who suggested that perhaps Pope Francis is referring to a combined apologetics + polemics. That can be a turnoff. But apologetics itself? Pope Francis has encouraged that, as documented in the link above.

OK, thanks for clearing that up. I missed the connection of Polemics and apologetics.

He also made this very similar comment where he is more clear that apologetics is good:

“[A] dialogue is not doing apologetics, although sometimes you must do so, when we are asked questions that require an explanation.” source

My guess is that he is talking along the lines of this:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The Gift of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

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