Sunday, 31 March 2019

Matthew 28:19: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'

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Pope Francis on Sunday warned Catholics in Morocco against trying to convert others to boost their small numbers, during a rare visit by a pontiff to the North African country.
Speaking in Rabat's cathedral on his second day in the Moroccan capital, Francis insisted trying to convert people to ones own belief "always leads to an impasse".
"Please, no proselytism!" he told an audience of around 400..
Sophie Pons, Sophie Pons, 
I ask myself how the Pope's words are compatible with the Gospel. 

I approve of street preachers, even though or especially as the British police have taken to arresting them, if they preach in what the police call 'Muslim areas' or if they say, when asked, that they consider homosexual acts are sins.

On the other hand, when he was Catholic Chaplain at Oxford Mgr Ronnie Knox refused to give undergraduates instruction in the faith in case this looked like proselytism. He sent them to the Jesuits at Farm St. Mgr Alfred Gilbey, his counterpart at Cambridge, did give instruction but, of course, waited till students came to him asking for it. Neither was the stuff of which street preachers are made. Both had, amongst other vocations, a vocation for attracting converts from the upper class.


Still proselytism can have results.

I remember the Catholic Bishop of Zanzibar telling me that if a Muslim comes to him or his priests for instruction they cannot refuse him, but they make sure they spin it out for three years. I knew that he was fearful of violence breaking out if a Muslim converted. Perhaps this is the Pope's fear. 

Or perhaps he thinks God wills pluralism in religion, which is something he recently said. What did this mean? I don't know.  I hope it means only that He wills tolerance of infidels and false religions, not that people should adhere to false religions. 

I remember a Jew writing (where? I think it was in The Tablet) that he had asked a Catholic priest for instruction and been told that as a Jew he already had a covenant and had no need to become a Catholic. 

I hope the Pope does not think like that priest. Some Anglicans do.

Mind you, Moroccans found guilty of trying to weaken the faith of a Muslim face three years in the clink, so the Pope's advice is sound from a pragmatic point of view. 

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