On June 12th 2015, Fr Ken Barker had the opportunity to address Pope Francis at the International Priests Retreat in Rome. Below is the video and translation of the Pope’s reply. For a further explanation of what the Pope means by ‘proselytising’, see the two links at the bottom of the page.

 

FR KEN’S QUESTION

Holy Father, my name is Fr Ken Barker of the Missionaries of God’s Love, a new religious congregation in Australia.

I want to thank you for your simple, humble and loving witness of the gospel which has not only won our hearts, but also touched the hearts of many who do not belong to the Church.

In Australia, as in other countries, the Church is struggling to communicate the truth of the gospel in the face of an aggressively secular environment.

The Church is often seen as out of date and irrelevant. The moral teachings of the Church are rejected by many.

My question is about communication. How can we best communicate the message in the public sphere when there is so much opposition?

If you don’t mind me saying, Holy Father, you do this very well. What is your secret?

THE HOLY FATHER’S ANSWER

La situación de los cristianos a lo largo de la historia y a lo largo de los diversos sitios actuales es distinta: ignorados, despreciados, con poder. Me viene a la mente el verso de Dante cuando habla de Constantino – “cuando tuvimos poder”.

  • The situation of Christians throughout history and throughout the various existing places is different: Ignored, despised, with power. It comes to mind Dante’s verse when he speaks of Constantine: “when we had power”.

Y hay ahora en muchos lugares una situación como la que describió el padre y Australia es uno de estos; un secularismo total que la iglesia es algo irrelevante, algo que no tiene sentido – como: “esta bien que hagan sus cosas”

  • There is now, in many places, a situation like the one described by the priest and Australia is one of those. A total secularism where the Church is irrelevant; it doesn’t make sense but it’s ok for them (church goers) to do their thing.

Es (para usar una palabra que es una herencia del positivismo tan fuerte que hemos vivido) la iglesia, las religiones son una subcultura y entonces se vive en una subcultura.

  • To use a word which is a legacy of the strong positivism we have lived, the Church, the religions are a subculture, and then we live in a subculture.

¿Qué hacer en esto?

  • What do we do with this?

Muy sencillo, no hacer proselitismo, el proselitismo es la caricatura de la evangelización. Benedicto XVI fue tan claro en esto – la iglesia no crece por proselitismo sino por atracción – y esta palabra quiero tomar para responderte.

  • It’s very simple, do not proselytize. Proselytism is the caricature of evangelisation. Benedict XVI was so clear about this: the Church does not grow by proselytism but by attraction, and this is the word I want to take to answer your question.

¿Y cómo atracción? – con el testimonio, con el lenguaje de los gestos, y que provoque la curiosidad. Y que el Espíritu Santo mueva el corazón de una persona y que se pregunte: “¿por qué hacen esto? Por qué hacen lo que está en esas dos columnas sobre las cuales se apoya el cristianismo: las bienaventuranzas y Mateo 25 que es el protocolo sobre el cual vamos a ser juzgados. Gente ve hacer esto y se pregunta: “¿que estos están locos?” Atender gente que no va a poder sobrevivir, gente disabiles, atender enfermos en esta cultura del descarte donde lo que no produce no sirve.

  • Attraction, how?
  • Withourtestimony, with gestures, provoking curiosity – allowing the Holy Spirit to move a person’s heart to wonder “why do they do this?” Why do they do what is in the two pillars on which Christianity rests: the beatitudes and Matthew 25; which is the protocol over which we will be judged. People wonder “are they crazy?, serving those who will not be able to survive, the disable, the sick, in this culture that discards – where what does not produce is not good.

La trampa en la que podemos caer y no tenemos que caer es en la predicación moralista, No!

  • The trap in which we can fall, and do not have to, is moralistic preaching

¿Que hacer frente una sociedad así?

  • What to do when facing a society like this?

Dejar que el Espíritu Santo provoque la curiosidad sobre las actitudes testimoniales que nosotros damos – este hombre, esta mujer gasta su vida sirviendo aquellos que todo el mundo descarta, y son muchos. Lenguaje de los gestos y provocar la curiosidad que los va a interesar para preguntarnos, lo que Pedro dice en su carta: “¿Cuál es la razón de vuestra esperanza? ¿Por qué hacen eso? “

  • Allow the Holy Spirit to provoke curiosity about the testimonial attitudes we have: “this man, this woman spend their time serving those who are discarded by the world, and they are many”.
  • The language of gestures provoking curiosity that will make them interested in asking us what Peter says in his letter: “what’s the reason of your hope? Why do you do that?”

No hay otro camino, no condenar a nadie, tu enemigo te hace mal, devolvele el bien. Encontras a uno tirado en el camino de la vida, en cualquier situación que sea – compórtate como el buen samaritano, cumplí las bienaventuranzas y deja que el Espíritu Santo haga el resto. Testimonio, dar testimonio – pienso en el Beato Carlos de Foucauld en este momento. ¿Que hizo Carlos de Foucault? Dió testimonio, un testimonio que traspasó su vida y todavía hoy sigue moviendo corazones, gente curiosa: “¿Por qué este hombre hizo eso?”

  • There is no other way, do not condemn anyone, if your enemy hurts you, in return, do good to them. If you find someone laying in the road of life whatever the circumstances – be a Good Samaritan, comply with the beatitudes and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
  • Testimony, give testimony. At this moment it comes to mind Blessed Charles de Foucauld. What did Charles de Foucault do, he gave testimony, a testimony that surpassed his life and still keeps moving hearts, people wonder: “why did this man do that?

Tantos cristiano, laicos que viven las bienaventuranzas, que viven lo que Jesús enseñó, que viven el evangelio, y el evangelio “ad litteram”. Eso es lo que se me ocurre decirte y eso es levadura, ¿cierto? Que el Espíritu Santo vuelva a usarnos, pero NUNCA el proselitismo por favor, nunca.

  • So many Christians, lay people who live the beatitudes, who live what Jesus taught, who live the Gospel literally. That is what I can think to tell you and that is yeast, isn’t it? That the Holy Spirit uses us again, but NEVER proselytism, please, never.

———————————————————-

What does the Pope mean by proselytising?

When Pope Francis rips ‘proselytism,’ who’s he talking about?

Pope Francis on “Proselytism”