Wrapping up ecumenism, we look at the need for speaking and listening to one another.
233. At this new stage of evangelization, we want dialogue and ecumenical cooperation to lead to promoting new forms of discipleship and mission in communion. We note that where dialogue is established, proselytism diminishes, mutual knowledge and respect increase, and possibilities for witnessing together expand.
Some Christians and even Catholics are dismayed at the setting aside of proselytism. But there’s a reason why we probably must. Encouraging people within Christianity to realign is not really part of the mission of Christ. Getting Lutherans to become Catholic or Catholics to become evangelical Protestants is, quite frankly, lazy work for long-hanging fruit. At best. At worst, it expends energy better served by seeking the lost. There’s probably a lot more to be said on the topic, but it would set us off course.
Recent popes urge us in a better direction, so we could take heed:
234. As a generous response to the Lord’s prayer “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21), the successors of Peter have encouraged us to advance patiently along the path of unity. John Paul II exhorts us:
In this courageous journey towards unity, the transparency and the prudence of faith require us to avoid both false irenicism and indifference to the Church’s ordinances. Conversely, that same transparency and prudence urge us to reject a halfhearted commitment to unity and, even more, a prejudicial opposition or a defeatism which tends to see everything in negative terms.(Ut Unum Sint 79)
As he began his pontiﬁcate, Benedict XVI said:
Good intentions do not suffice. Concrete gestures that enter hearts and stir consciences are essential, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress. (First message at the end of the eucharistic concelebration with the cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel, Wednesday April 20, 2005)
Last thoughts on ecumenism, proselytizing, and popes … for the moment?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.