The Personalist Project

Accessed on March 30, 2020 - 9:53:47

Solemn Nonsense: A How-To Guide

Devra Torres, Oct 25, 2013

In a recent interview, the story goes, Pope Francis dismissed proselytism as “solemn nonsense.” 

That “interview,” it turned out, was an 89-year-old atheist’s after-the-fact reconstruction of his recollection of a conversation he recorded with neither gizmo nor even pen and paper. A grain of salt is clearly indicated.

But suppose the Pope did say this, or something like it?  Has the New Evangelization been declared obsolete and recalled, like an old-fashioned car seat?  Have we al been ordered to convert to indifferentism?

No, not by a long shot.  Alarmed parties are directed to Pope Emeritus Benedict, no fan of the dictatorship of relativism, who has said that the Church grows not by proselytism, but by attraction.  

The key to understanding what they’re talking about is the difference between proselytism and evangelization.  They are not synonyms.

What’s the difference?  Evangelization is spreading the Good News within the context of an encounter with a fellow human person whose freedom, interiority, and personhood you take seriously.  Proselytism is—well, here’s a handy five-step guide to how to commit proselytism:

In short, personalism and proselytism start with the same letter, but that's about all they have in common.