Friday, October 18, 2013
Here is the "Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Day 2013." (Clearly, this is not -- his unremarkable expressions of concern about inappropriate "proselytizing" notwithstanding -- the message of a pope who wants Christians to put aside evangelization!). Here is a bit:
The work of evangelization often finds obstacles, not only externally, but also from within the ecclesial community. Sometimes there is lack of fervour, joy, courage and hope in proclaiming the Message of Christ to all and in helping the people of our time to an encounter with him. Sometimes, it is still thought that proclaiming the truth of the Gospel means an assault on freedom. Paul VI speaks eloquently on this: "It would be... an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with total respect for free options which it presents... is a tribute to this freedom" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). We must always have the courage and the joy of proposing, with respect, an encounter with Christ, and being heralds of his Gospel.
In this essay of mine -- now several years old -- I suggested (among other things) that: "the Church's evangelical mission does not restrict freedom but rather promotes it. The Church proposes - thereby inviting the exercise of human freedom - she imposes nothing. The claim here, then, is that proposing, persuading, proselytizing, and evangelizing are at the heart of, and need not undermine, not only the freedoms protected by the Constitution, but also those that are inherent in our dignity as human persons."