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Almost a year ago James Bannister, writing in Fatima Perspectives, asked why the Catholic Church no longer proselytizes -- why She no longer seeks to bring others into Her embrace. Now (December 2007) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has released a 19-page document defending the right and duty of all Catholics to spread the Faith.
The CDF acknowledges "a growing confusion about the Church's missionary mandate". The authors of this "confusion" are those misguided prelates, like Cardinal Walter Kasper, who have stated publicly that converting others to Catholicism is "not ‘our’ policy". What is Cardinal Kasper’s policy? It is the false ecumenism which has been criticized by Father Nicholas Gruner and other traditional Catholic thinkers for decades. The policy, as Christopher Ferrara observes, is essentially this: Do not convert others to Roman Catholicism; do not encourage others to return to Holy Mother Church.
Now it seems that Cardinal Kasper’s policy is not that of the Vatican -- at least not that of the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Though not everything in the document is perfect, the CDF document makes it clear that the faithful still must do their best to spread the truths of the Gospel, and encourage others to enter the Catholic Church.
The CDF sends a strong message to those, like Cardinal Kasper, who would discourage missionaries from seeking conversions. The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Francis Arinze, said "If a Christian did not try to spread the Gospel by sharing the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ with others, we could suspect that Christian either of lack of total conviction on the faith, or of selfishness and laziness in not wanting to share the full and abundant means of salvation with his fellow human beings."
By encouraging others to become Catholic, the CDF explains, the faithful are exercising the virtue of charity, by sharing a treasure. The document adds that "respect for religious freedom and its promotion must not in any way make us indifferent towards truth and goodness. Indeed, love impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all the truth which saves."
The CDF document speaksof the "political correctness" and timidity which have lately marked the Vatican’s attitude to spreading the Catholic Faith in two critical areas: Russia and the Muslim countries. It echos, in more diplomatic terms, a celebrated homily given by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi in 2001. Cardinal Biffi affirmed that proselytization "is an exact order from the Lord, and it does not allow for any sort of exemption. He did not tell us: Preach the Gospel to every creature, except for the Muslims, the Jews, and the Dalai Lama."
The source of this thinking should cause great consternation to Cardinal Kasper and his like-minded colleagues. The Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization is the work of none other than Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. It is reported that the Holy Father approved this message years ago, when he was still prefect of the CDF.
The note was held in reserve until now, when it was released in response to the "growing confusion" over the Church's duty to proclaim Jesus to the world. In an interview with Vatican Radio, CDF secretary Archbishop Angelo Amato remarked "This confusion has even penetrated within the missionary institutes.... No more proclaiming Christ, no invitation to conversion, no baptism, no Church. Only social activism."
It is to be hoped that Cardinal Kasper and all Catholic priests and lay people will now, as the CDF urges, obey unconditionally the commandment of Our Lord: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Click hereto read the text of Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization "Kasper the Termite Opposes Mass Return of Anglicans to the Church", by Christopher Ferrara "Why Don't We Proselytize?"
by James Bannister
The Interfax agency reported recently something that is hardly news to those who follow religious news coming out of the former Soviet Union. Roman Silantyev, who speaks on human rights issues for the head of the World Russian People's Council, reported that attacks on the Catholic Faith have increased dramatically during the past two years.
Mr. Silantyev was speaking of not just Russia, but the whole world. He referred to political attacks by secular liberals and Muslim fundamentalists. He also cited hostility toward Catholicism in the media and the world of entertainment, pointing to popular works such as The Da Vinci Code and The Golden Compass. The novel The Golden Compass has recently been banned by some Catholic school boards in Canada. Its author, Philip Pullman, joins the list of Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists, whose works are permeated by anti-Catholic and atheistic themes.
The Russian activist sees the rise in anti-Catholicism as a reaction against the stronger leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, whose policies and pronouncements he calls "more dangerous for the anti-Christian forces" than those of any Pope since Vatican II.
Mr. Silantyev, who describes himself as Orthodox, said that the Orthodox churches should recognize the motivation for these attacks, and join Catholics in resisting them. Perhaps someone should recommend to Mr. Silantyev that he take the next logical step, and give his allegiance and his services to Holy Mother Church.
Meanwhile, Russia is not converted. Russia’s errors of atheistic communism continue to spread throughout the world. Let us pray and work for the Consecration of that poor nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady of Fatima is still waiting!
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