In the aftermath of yesterday’s blog post, it has become evident that Fairytale Fever has reached near epidemic proportions among the Catholic population.
With the well-deserved criticism of Interviewgate 2 making its rounds, in particular as it relates to the pope’s insistence that “proselytism is solemn nonsense,” the papal apologizers set out on an archaeological dig in search of evidence that Francis’ remarks are the stuff of papal precedent.
Well, they didn’t have to dig very deep. They couldn’t, for the simple reason that the Holy Roman Catholic Church’s distaste for her God-given mission is a post-conciliar phenomenon.
Sure, they unearthed quotes from John Paul II and Benedict XVI rejecting proselytism, but who’s kidding who? The Assisi popes are the poster boys of false ecumenism, which is all about dialogue that eventually leads to… you guessed, more dialogue.
In any case, missing from both their reading of Francis, and their defense of the same, is any semblance of context.
In the case of the alleged precedent-setter-popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, one will find in most cases that their negative commentary concerning proselytism is ordered toward addressing coercion, or forced conversions gained via unethical behavior. For example, the oldest quote I’ve found dates all the way back to 1995, wherein John Paul II said during a visit to Sri Lanka, “[the Church] firmly rejects proselytism and the use of unethical means to gain conversions.”
Why conflate “proselytism” with “unethical means” in the first place? Who knows, perhaps this is just another example of that favored modernist pastime, redefining words. In any case, some definitions are in order, but first, let’s revisit the interview to contextualize Pope Francis’ commentary.
My friends think it is you want to convert me.
He smiles again and replies: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense…
The translation isn’t exact. The original Italian text has been published on the Holy See’s website, which in addition to undermining the argument that the pope has no intention of revealing his papal agenda via a newspaper interview, it can be a valuable resource.
The operative part reads, Anche i miei amici pensano che sia Lei a volermi convertire.
My Italian isn’t terrific by any means, but I know enough to understand that Scalfari is more properly telling the pope that his friends think that the pope “wants me to convert.”
At this point, I shouldn’t have to point out that we’re looking at apples and oranges, but I will.
To the (apparently) ludicrous notion that the Vicar of Christ may (get this) want an atheist with whom he has developed a cordial relationship to convert to the one true faith, the pope promptly replied, “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”
Are you paying attention? The pope is saying that the very idea that he may harbor a desire to see Scalfari convert to the Catholic faith is “nonsense!” That’s the context, like it or not.
Now on to some definitions.
First, let’s revisit the mission of the Church as given by Christ.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 20:19-20)
As for proselytism, this is nothing more insidious than actively seeking proselytes; i.e., converts.
That’s it, and the Church has, until very recently, been doing exactly this by means of teaching, preaching and exhorting from day one. (See St. Peter the Proselytizer in action in Acts 2 if you don’t believe me.)
Part of the redefinition effort concerns setting up a false dichotomy relative to the mission of the Church, pitting the passive luring of converts by way of godly example and genuine kindness, against active calls to conversion through preaching and teaching.
Heaven is full of saints who did all of these things to the exclusion of none, as each constitutes a necessary component of authentic love of neighbor.
Then there is the more sophomoric notion that “proselytism” refers exclusively to an effort to create converts solely by means of condemnation and conquest. This is wholesale fantasy that just barely qualifies for refutation.
There isn’t one credible voice among the critics of Pope Francis who espouse anything like this. In any case, this make believe scenario couldn’t be further away from the context with which Francis offered his own regrettable comments.
In short, the post-conciliar modernists can labor to convince themselves and others that “proselytism” is a war crime all they want, but the fact remains, it is nothing more than the very mission of the Church.