If you wondering why Pope Francis considers the work of actively seeking converts (otherwise known as proselytism) nonsense, today’s General Audience should clear things up.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In the Creed, we profess that the Church is “catholic”; in other words, she is universal. We can understand this catholicity in three ways. First, the Church is catholic because she proclaims the apostolic faith in its entirety; she is the place where we meet Christ in his sacraments and receive the spiritual gifts needed to grow in holiness together with our brothers and sisters. The Church is also catholic because her communion embraces the whole human race, and she is sent to bring to the entire world the joy of salvation and the truth of the Gospel. Finally, the Church is catholic because she reconciles the wonderful diversity of God’s gifts to build up his People in unity and harmony…
That the Catholic Church is, by God’s will, uniquely she from whom the authentic Faith, the sacraments and all spiritual gifts are received is absolutely true. (Yes, I know, I embellished the pope’s words just a bit, but let’s just assume for the sake of conversation that this is what he intended. This is, after all, a Catholic understanding of what the Church is.)
In any event, from here the ecclesiology of Pope Francis immediately devolves into a form of universalism when he states, “The Church is also catholic because her communion embraces the whole human race.”
Thanks to the new genre of papal speech that isn’t particularly concerned with precision in matters of faith, one is simply left to wonder exactly what it means to say that the Church’s “communion embraces the whole human race.”
Does the pope really believe that the entire human race enjoys, in some form or fashion, communion with the Church?
Well, yes, apparently so, which explains why he has so much difficulty accepting the Church’s mission as the Lord plainly gave it.
In other words, if communion with the Church already exists among the entire human race, to what end does it make sense to call others to conversion? As the pope said to Eugenio Scalfari, “It makes no sense!”
What then is the mission of the Church? I mean, she must have a mission, right?
Indeed, and Francis tells us that it is “to bring to the entire world the joy of salvation and the truth of the Gospel.”
It’s all starting to make sense now, isn’t it?
As Pope Francis sees things, since the whole human race is already “embraced by the Church’s communion,” we need only let them know the joyful news that salvation is presently theirs!
Lastly, it only makes sense, therefore, that the final part of the mission of this “catholic” Church is to invite the peoples of the world to realize and behave as if they are in communion, regardless of who they are or what they may believe.
That is why the “Church of Francis” feels called to “reconcile the wonderful diversity of God’s gifts to build up his People in unity and harmony,” and make no mistake about it, among “God’s gifts” as this pope understands them is religious diversity and the multiplicity of false religions and false gods that pollute the human landscape.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be, and I can say with a degree of certainty that at least some of the cardinals who elected him expected nothing less from this papacy.
Recall that Jorge Bergoglio made it very plain in the Consistory of Cardinals prior to the conclave that the mission of the Church, as he chooses to understand it, has precious little to do with the Great Commission.
“Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from ‘the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.’” – Jorge Bergoglio speaking to the very cardinals who would soon make him pope.
With this bit of perspective established, the picture is undoubtedly coming into sharper focus for those who have eyes to see.
You see, the confused ecclesiology of Jorge Bergoglio is such that the “evangelizing” mission of the Church is not that by which she gives life to those who are trapped in spiritual death for lack of communion; rather, since her communion presently embraces the whole human race, the mission is therefore understood as that by which “the Church gains life” as she taps into all of the wonderful gifts of the heathens and heretics and atheists who occupy the “existential peripheries.”
With an ecclesiology like this, no wonder the pope thinks proselytism is solemn nonsense.