Another Interview: On Dialogue

Liam put me on to this interview.

The second thing that struck me was the Holy Father’s approach to dialogue:

Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.

It has often been observed that people of various traditions and faiths can be drawn together in a shared action. Indeed, most of Christian ecumenism has taken place with the sharing of charity and justice concerns around the world.

I love the approach of dialogue described briefly above. Listen, then improve our mutual knowledge. And what a quote, “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.”

What Pope Francis describes as important is the near opposite of the world’s values. In the secular view, we are supposed to know ideas, then to speak, then to expand our circle of people (who, presumably, listen to us). What the Holy Father is suggesting turns upside down what is largely acceptable practice both within and outside of the Church.

One of the best things about this interview: discerning how this applies to the disciplines I follow as a musician, liturgist, and campus minister, not to mention my vocation as husband and father.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Another Interview: On Dialogue

  1. Devin says:

    I am honestly trying to figure out the difference between proselyting & evangelizing. The New Testament and Church Fathers is full of references of disciples preaching that people should repent, be baptized and to believe in Jesus in the public forum in forceful ways. Nothing that Pope Francis said prior to this interview has caused me to bat an eyelash, but I can’t get my head around “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.”

  2. Todd says:

    As I understand it, evangelization is by example, primarily. Proselytizing is when the believer goes to the people and preaches. Jesus had the people come to him. That seems to be the key: evangelizatin involves the attraction of others to the life of the Christian. When people ask the questions, then we talk.

  3. Devin says:

    Thank you for your response. It seems by your definition, Jesus and his disciples did proselytize, but perhaps only initially and just to generalized groups. Then it turned into evangelization (e.g. when Nicodemus approached Jesus). I loved your definition in the post published earlier today and probably best captures the Pope’s intent.

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