Vatican asserts Catholic right to make conversions
In the face of increasing hostility in Russia and elsewhere, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has defended the right and duty of Catholics to undertake evangelisation intended to convert people of other faiths.
It has released a 19 page document that also acknowledges 'a growing confusion about the Church's missionary mandate'.
Quoting Pope John Paul II, it states "every person has the right to hear the Good News� and that this implies Catholics have a duty to evangelise.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has been criticised for efforts to attract converts, including the Russian Patriarch who has complained bitterly about "proselytism" in Russia.
In response, the CDF has affirmed while Catholics should respect believers other faiths, and should never engage in coercion or manipulation, the faithful still must do their best to spread the truths of the Gospel, and encourage others to enter the Catholic Church.
Introducing the docment, Congregation for Divine Worship prefect Cardinal Francis Arinze (pictured) said if Christians did not try to spread the Gospel, then that person lacks "total conviction on the faith, or of selfishness and laziness".
"By encouraging others to become Catholic, the CDF explains, the faithful are exercising the virtue of charity, by sharing a treasure," the document states.
"Bringing new believers into the Catholic Church, is not the expansion of a power-group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and ages."
Vatican strongly affirms Church's duty to spread faith (Catholic World News, 14/12/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faity (The Vatican)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Catholic Hierachy)
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17 Dec 2007