47 – Being a minority is actually a strength. We have to be a leavening infinitely smaller than the mass. Our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs

Spiritual realities surpass natural realities, often evading the capacity of our limited intelligence. That’s why the Divine Master frequently used analogies when he explained the marvels of his kingdom to his followers. Among them is the parable of the yeast: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened’ (Mt 13:33). The Fathers and Doctors of the Church, as well as the Magisterium, have always considered, in different ways, this image as a symbol of the dynamism of apostolic teaching. In obedience to the mandate of the Redeemer – ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19) – the Church should reach the entire world and transform the face of the earth.
Were the Apostles mistaken about the extensiveness and objective of their mission? Let’s see what the Magisterium has to say…



Quote AQuote BQuote C
Personally I think that being a minority is actually a strength. We must be a leaven of life and love, and leaven is of an infinitely smaller quantity than the mass of fruit, flowers and trees that are born from that leaven. I think I said before that our objective is not to proselytise but to listen to needs, aspirations, disappointments, desperation and hopes. We must restore hope to the young, help the elderly, open up to the future and spread love. (Interview with Eugenio Scalfari, October 1, 2013La Reppublica)

Note 1: The authors of this study are aware that the Vatican Press Office has denied the interpretations that some media sources have attributed to certain affirmations contained in the interviews of Francis with Eugenio Scalfari. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that some of these sources are still published on the Vatican website (found by clicking on the links of the articles), lending an official air to their content, seemingly with the approval of Francis himself. In the midst of all the turmoil and confusion caused, we always feel that a presentation of the true doctrine should be made with clarity, together with such affirmations. We must not forget that the majority of the public read only the titles that the media publishes, and, as we know, the latter frequently manipulate the truth. Consequently, it appears that a mere declaration that the content of these interviews does not correspond with the textual words of Francis, is simply not sufficient. As such, we publish this article with the intention of clarifying and orienting the faithful, who have always been the principle objective of this page, as we expressed in our letter of presentation. In this way, each one can make a correct judgment, having beforehand attained knowledge of the truth.


Capture - Aug 6, 2015 - Cópia

Print screen of the Interview on the Vatican page on May 18, 2015.

Note 2: Fr. Lombardi explained the decision for the removal of the interview with Scalfari from the Vatican web: ‘The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analysed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website. Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned. The Secretariat of State took the decision.’ (Fr. Federico Lombardi, November 15, 2013) However, ‘The Denzinger-Bergoglio_EN’ confirms that it is still posted on the Vatican webpage, just as our Spanish counterpart confirms the same for their language edition.
[…] yet again: the problem of ecumenism. Never fight! Let the theologians study the abstract realities of theology. But what should I do with a friend, neighbour, an Orthodox person? Be open, be a friend. “But should I make efforts to convert him or her?” There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytise the Orthodox! They are our brothers and sisters, disciples of Jesus Christ. […]“And so what should I do?” Do not condemn. No. I must not do this. Friendship, walking together, praying for one another. Praying and carrying out works of charity together, when this is possible. This is ecumenism. But never condemn a brother or a sister, never refrain from greeting an Orthodox brother or sister because they are Orthodox.(Apostolic trip to Georgia, Meeting with Religious in Tbilisi, October 1, 2016)
Conversion is not easy, because it means changing one’s life, changing one’s ways, changing so many things, even changing the soul. But this path of conversion will give us the identity of a people who knows how to bear children, not a sterile people! If we, like the Church, do not know how to bear children, something is not working! The great challenge for the Church today is to become mother: mother! Not a perfectly organized non-profit, with so many pastoral plans…. We need them, sure… But that is not essential, it is just a help. A help to what? To the motherhood of the Church. If the Church is not mother, it is sad to say that she becomes a spinster, but she does become a spinster! That’s how it is: she bears no fruit. The Church not only makes children, but it is part of her identity to make children, that is, to evangelize, as Paul VI says in Evangelii nuntiandi. The Church’s identity is this: to evangelize, that is, to make children. I think of our mother Sarah, who grew old without children; I think of Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharius, old without children; I think of Noemi, another old woman without descendents… And these barren women did bear children, they were given descendents: the Lord is capable of doing that! That is why the Church must do something, must change, must convert in order to become mother. She must be fruitfull! Fruitfulness is a grace that we today need to ask from the Holy Spirit, so that we can go forward in our pastoral and missionary conversion. This is not a question of seeking to proselytize, no, no! To go ring the bell: “Would you like to come to this association called the Catholic Church?…”. We need to make a card, another member… The Church —Benedict XVI told us — does not grow through proselytism, she grows through attraction, maternal attraction, offering her motherhood: she grows through tenderness, her maternity, the witness that generates ever more and more children. She is a little aged, our Mother Church… We shouldn’t call her “Grandma Church”, but still she is a little older… We must rejuvenate her! We must rejuvenate her, but not by taking her to the plastic surgeon, no! This is not the true rejuvenation of the Church, it doesn’t work. The Church grows younger when she is capable of generating more children; she grows younger the more she becomes mother.(Address to participants in Rome’s Diocesan conference, June 16, 2014)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study


I – The leaven of the Gospel penetrates and transforms the world
II – By divine mandate: the Church should evangelize
III – All humans should belong to the Church through sincere conversion
IV – Evangelization is the best assistance that the Church can offer humanity

I – The leaven of the Gospel penetrates and transforms the world

Paul VI

Deceit: to think that the Church should be reduced to the modest proportions of its earliest days

In this context, therefore, when we speak about reform we are not concerned to change things, but to preserve all the more resolutely the characteristic features which Christ has impressed on His Church. Or rather, we are concerned to restore to the Church that ideal of perfection and beauty that corresponds to its original image, and that is at the same time consistent with its necessary, normal and legitimate growth from its original, embryonic form into its present structure. No one should deceive himself into thinking that the Church which has now become a vast, magnificent, and majestic temple built to the glory of God, should be reduced to the modest proportions which it had in its earliest days, as though this minimal form were the only one that is genuine and lawful. (Paul VI. Encyclical Ecclesiam suam, no. 47, August 6, 1964)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Leaven quickly communicates its own properties to the whole mass

For the leaven is small in quantity, yet forthwith it seizes upon the whole mass, and quickly communicates to it its own properties. And the word of God operates in us in a similar manner […] We receive therefore the rational and divine leaven in our mind and understanding, that by this precious and holy and pure leaven we may be found spiritually unleavened, as having in us none of the wickedness of the world… (Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Commentaries on the Gospel of Luke, Ch. XIII, v. 21: Sermon XCVI)

Saint John Chrysostom

If the leaven did not change the whole, would it be leaven?

Say, if the leaven being mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would such a thing be leaven? […] Say not, ‘It is impossible for me to induce others (to become Christians)’ – for if thou art a Christian, it is impossible but that it should be so. (Saint John Chrysostom. On the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 20, no. 4)

Twelve men ‘leavened’ the whole world

‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.’ For as this converts the large quantity of meal into its own quality, even so shall ye convert the whole world. […] Yea, for it is He that put the power into the leaven. With this intent He mingled also with the multitude those who believe on Him, that we might impart unto the rest of our wisdom. Let no one therefore reprove us for being few. For great is the power of the gospel, and that which hath been once leavened, becomes leaven again for what remains. And as a spark, when it hath caught in timber, makes what hath been burnt up already increase the flame, and so proceeds to the rest; even so the gospel likewise. But He said not fire, but ‘leaven.’ Why might this be? Because in that case the whole effect is not of the fire, but partly of the timber too that is kindled, but in this the leaven doth the whole work by itself. Now if twelve men leavened the whole world, imagine how great our baseness, in that when we being so many are not able to amend them that remain; we, who ought to be enough for ten thousand worlds, and to become leaven to them. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily on Matthew, homily 46)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Church should keep increasing until the Lord returns, renewing human society in Christ

Coming forth from the eternal Father’s love (cf. Titus 3:4: ‘love of mankind’), founded in time by Christ the Redeemer and made one in the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 1:3; 5:6; 13-14, 23), the Church has a saving and an eschatological purpose which can be fully attained only in the future world. But she is already present in this world, and is composed of men, that is, of members of the earthly city who have a call to form the family of God’s children during the present history of the human race, and to keep increasing it until the Lord returns. […] She serves as a leaven and as a kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God’s family. (Vatican Council II. Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, no. 40, December 7, 1965)

Pius XII

The Church possesses an abiding strength from on high to build a new society of peoples

All earthly institutions begun and built solely on human wisdom and human power, in the course of time succeed one another, flourish and then quite naturally fail, weaken and crumble away; but the organization which Our Redeemer established has received from its divine Founder unfailing life and abiding strength from on high. Thus sustained and fortified the Church comes out victorious through the hostile fortunes of time and circumstances; amid their ruins and failures it is capable of molding a new and happier age and with Christian doctrine and spirit she can build and erect a new society of citizens, peoples and nations. (Pius XII. Encyclical Fulgens radiatur, n.3, March 21, 1947)

II – By divine mandate: the Church should evangelize

Paul VI

The Church is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being

Anyone who rereads in the New Testament the origins of the Church, follows her history step by step and watches her live and act, sees that she is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being: The Church is born of the evangelizing activity of Jesus and the Twelve. She is the normal, desired, most immediate and most visible fruit of this activity: ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations’ (Mt 28:19). Now, ‘they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number…. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved’ (Acts 2:41, 47). Having been born consequently out of being sent, the Church in her turn is sent by Jesus. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 15, December 8, 1975)

The very nature of the gifts which Christ has given the Church demands that they be extended and shared with others

If, as We said, the Church realizes what is God’s will in its regard, it will gain for itself a great store of energy, and in addition will conceive the need for pouring out this energy in the service of all men. It will have a clear awareness of a mission received from God, of a message to be spread far and wide. Here lies the source of our evangelical duty, our mandate to teach all nations, and our apostolic endeavor to strive for the eternal salvation of all men. […] The very nature of the gifts which Christ has given the Church demands that they be extended to others and shared with others. This must be obvious from the words: ‘Going, therefore, teach ye all nations,’ (Mt 28:19). Christ’s final command to His apostles. The word apostle implies a mission from which there is no escaping. (Paul VI. Encyclical Ecclesiam suam, no. 64, August 6, 1964)

Benedict XVI

The principal task of the Church is evangelization

The Church is missionary by nature and her principal task is evangelization, which aims to proclaim and to witness to Christ and to promote his Gospel of peace and love in every environment and culture. […] The Church is also called in the military world to be ‘salt’, ‘light’ and ‘leaven’, to use the images to which Jesus himself refers, so that mindsets and structures may be ever more fully oriented to building peace, in other words, to that ‘order planned and willed by the love of God’ (Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2006), in which people and peoples can develop to the full and see their own fundamental rights recognized (ibid., n.4). (Benedict XVI. Address to the participants in the Fifth National congress of Military Ordinariates, October 26, 2006)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Church has a sacred duty to preach the Gospel

Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6), yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1Cor 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains its power and necessity. By means of this activity, the Mystical Body of Christ unceasingly gathers and directs its forces toward its own growth (cf. Eph 4:11-16). (Vatican Council II. Decree Ad gentes, no. 7, December 7, 1975)

The Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit: Christ is the source of salvation for the whole world

As the Son was sent by the Father (cf. Jn. 20:21), so He too sent the Apostles, saying: ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world’ (Mt. 2:18-20). […] For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God’s plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. (Vatican Council II, Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 17, November 21, 1964)

John Paul II

The universal dimension of the missionary mandate

The different versions of the ‘missionary mandate’ contain common elements as well as characteristics proper to each. Two elements, however, are found in all the versions. First, there is the universal dimension of the task entrusted to the apostles, who are sent to ‘all nations’ (Mt 28:19); ‘into all the world and…to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15); to ‘all nations’ (Lk 24:47); ‘to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris missio, no. 23, December 7, 1990)


The mission of Christ is to save all without distinction of time or place

For what did Christ, the Lord, ask? What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly resolved to do: this He actually did. ‘As the Father bath sent me, I also send you’ (Jn 20:21). ‘And thou hast sent Me into the world I also have sent them into the world’ (Jn 17:18). But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. ‘The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him’ (Jn 3:17). ‘For there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing there from. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Satis cognitum, no. 7, June 29, 1896)

The most Holy Name of Jesus should rapidly pervade and fill every land

Pressed on to Our intent by Charity, that hastens fastest there where the need is greatest, We direct Our first thoughts to those most unfortunate of all nations who have never received the light of the Gospel, or who, after having possessed it, have lost it through neglect or the vicissitudes of time: Hence do they ignore God, and live in the depths of error. Now, as all salvation comes from Jesus Christfor there is no other Name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved–Our ardent desire is that the most Holy Name of Jesus should rapidly pervade and fill every land. And here, indeed, is a duty which the Church, faithful to the Divine Mission entrusted to her, has never neglected. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Praeclara gratulationis, no. 3, June 20, 1894)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The member who fails to contribute to the development of the Church is useless

The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, (cf. Pius XI, Rerum Ecclesiae) and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ. All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members. For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate. No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive but has a share in the functions as well as life of the body: so, too, in the body of Christ, which is the Church, ‘the whole body . . . in keeping with the proper activity of each part, derives its increase from its own internal development’ (Eph 4:16). Indeed, the organic union in this body and the structure of the members are so compact that the member who fails to make his proper contribution to the development of the Church must be said to be useful neither to the Church nor to himself. […] On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world. (Vatican Council II. Decree Apostolicam actuositatem, no. 2-3, November 18, 1965)

All the faithful are duty-bound to cooperate in the expansion of the Church

As members of the living Christ, incorporated into Him and made like unto Him through baptism and through confirmation and the Eucharist, all the faithful are duty – bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading out of His Body, to bring it to fullness as soon as may be (Eph. 4:13). (Vatican Council II, Decree Ad gentes, no. 36, December 7, 1975)

Pius X

The first duty of the Hierarchy is to instruct the faithful in the things of God

We must now consider upon whom rests the obligation to dissipate this most pernicious ignorance and to impart in its stead the knowledge that is wholly indispensable. There can be no doubt, Venerable Brethren, that this most important duty rests upon all who are pastors of souls. On them, by command of Christ, rest the obligations of knowing and of feeding the flocks committed to their care; and to feed implies, first of all, to teach. ‘I will give you pastors according to my own heart’, God promised through Jeremias, ‘and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine’ (Jer 3:15). […] the first duty of all those who are entrusted in any way with the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God. (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo nimis, no. 7, April 15, 1905)

John Paul II

The proclamation of the Gospel is one of the principal responsibilities of Bishops

The risen Jesus entrusted to his Apostles the mission of ‘making disciples’ of all nations, teaching them to observe all that he himself had commanded. The task of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world has thus been solemnly entrusted to the Church, the community of the disciples of the crucified and risen Lord. It is a task which will continue until the end of time. From the beginning, this mission of evangelization has been an integral part of the Church’s identity. […] If the duty of proclaiming the Gospel is incumbent upon the whole Church and each of her children, it is particularly so upon Bishops, who on the day of their sacred ordination, which places them in apostolic succession, assume as one of their principal responsibilities the proclamation of the Gospel. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Pastores gregis, no. 26, October 16, 2003)

Benedict XV

The duty of the Apostles continues in their successors

Before He returned to His Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ addressed to His disciples the words: ‘Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to all creation’ (Mk 16:15). With these words He committed to them a duty, a momentous and a holy charge, that was not to lapse with the death of the Apostles but would bind their successors, one after another, until the end of the world – as long, that is, as there remained on this earth men whom the truth might set free. (Benedict XV. Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, no. 1, November 30, 1919)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The successors of the Apostles have the duty to establish the kingdom of God throughout the world

Divinely sent to the nations of the world to be unto them ‘a universal sacrament of salvation’ (Lumen gentium 48), the Church, driven by the inner necessity of her own catholicity, and obeying the mandate of her Founder (cf. Mk 16:16), strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all men. The Apostles themselves, on whom the Church was founded, following in the footsteps of Christ, ‘preached the word of truth and begot churches’ (St. Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 44:23). It is the duty of their successors to make this task endure’ so that the word of God may run and be glorified (2Thess 3:1) and the kingdom of God be proclaimed and established throughout the world. (Vatican Council II. Decree Ad gentes, no. 1, December 7, 1975)

All bishops are consecrated for the salvation of the entire world

All bishops, as members of the body of bishops succeeding to the College of Apostles, are consecrated not just for some one diocese, but for the salvation of the entire world. The mandate of Christ to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mk 16:15). (Vatican Council II, Decree Ad gentes, no. 38, December 7, 1975)

Pius XII

By reason of his apostolic office the Pope is appointed ‘preacher and apostle’

‘If I preach the Gospel, I have there in no ground for boasting, since I am under constraint. For woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (1Cor 9:16)! Why should We not apply these earnest admonitions to Ourselves, that is, to the Vicar of Jesus Christ, who by reason of his apostolic office has been appointed ‘a preacher and apostle…a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth’ (1Tim 2:7)? (Pius XII. Encyclical Fidei donum, no. 82, April 21, 1957)

Pius XI

The Pope who does not strive to win over to Christ all who are still without the Fold fails in his obligation

The Church has no other reason for existence than, by developing the Kingdom of Christ on earth, to make mankind participate in the effects of His saving Redemption. Whoever, by Divine Commission, takes the place on earth of Jesus Christ, becomes thereby the Chief Shepherd who, far from being able to rest content with simply guiding and protecting the Lord’s Flock which has beer; confided to him to rule, fails in his special duty and obligations if he does not strive by might and main to win over and to join to Christ all who are still without the Fold. (Pius XI. Encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae, no. 1, February 28, 1926)

Pius XII

Zeal for missionary activity and the Catholic spirit are one and the same – he is not a true member of the Church who does not will Her expansion

Zeal for missionary activity and the Catholic spirit are one and the same. A principal note of the Church is catholicity; consequently, a man is no true member of the Church unless he is likewise a true member of the entire body of Christian believers and is filled with an ardent desire to see her take root and flourish in every land (Discorsi e radiomessaggi, 8, 328). (Pius XII. Encyclical Fidei donum, no. 44, April 21, 1957)


To keep silence when clamors are raised against truth is base and insulting to God

But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We’ve said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains:Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.’ To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Sapientiae christianae, no. 14, January 10, 1890)

III – All humans should belong to the Church through a sincere conversion

John Paul II

It is not enough to help people exteriorly – every person has the right to hear the ‘Good News’ of the God

The proclamation of the Word of God has Christian conversion as its aim: a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith. […] Nowadays the call to conversion which missionaries address to non-Christians is put into question or passed over in silence. It is seen as an act of ‘proselytizing’; it is claimed that it is enough to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion, that it is enough to build communities capable of working for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. What is overlooked is that every person has the right to hear the ‘Good News’ of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris missio, 46, December 7, 1990)

The good news disposes a person for a new life according to the Spirit

The ‘good news’ is directed to stirring a person to a conversion of heart and life and a clinging to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; to disposing a person to receive Baptism and the Eucharist and to strengthen a person in the prospect and realization of new life according to the Spirit. Certainly the command of Jesus: ‘Go and preach the Gospel’ always maintains its vital value and its ever-pressing obligation. Nevertheless, the present situation, not only of the world but also of many parts of the Church, absolutely demands that the word of Christ receive a more ready and generous obedience. Every disciple is personally called by name; no disciple can withhold making a response: ‘Woe to me, if I do not preach the gospel’ (1Cor 9:16). (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, no. 33, December 30, 1988)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The necessity of conversion and adherence to the Church through Baptism

Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom, must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, no. 22, August 6, 2000)

Paul VI

There is no new humanity without renewal by Baptism

For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new’ (Rev 21:5; cf. 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15). But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism (cf. Rom 6:4) and by lives lived according to the Gospel (cf. Eph 4:24-25; Col 3:9-10). The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 18, 1975)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The growth of the Church was foretold by Christ: ‘And I will draw all things to myself’

The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus (cf. Jn 19:34), and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself’ (Jn 12:32). (Vatican Council II, Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 3, November 21, 1964)

All must be converted to Christ and be incorporated by baptism

This missionary activity derives its reason from the will of God, ‘who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all’ (1Tim 2:45), ‘neither is there salvation in any other’ (Acts 4:12). Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. […] Wherever God opens a door of speech for proclaiming the mystery of Christ (cf. Col. 4:3), there is announced to all men (cf. Mk 16:15; 1Cor 9:15; Rom 10:14) with confidence and constancy (cf. Acts 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; 26:26; 28:31; 1Thess 2:2; 2Cor 3:12; 7:4; Phil 1:20; Eph 3:12; 6:19, 20) the living God, and He Whom He has sent for the salvation of all, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Thess 1:9-10; 1Cor 1:18-21; Gal 1:31; Acts 14:15-17, 17:22-31), in order that non – Christians, when the Holy Spirit opens their heart (cf. Acts 16:14), may believe and be freely converted to the Lord, that they may cleave sincerely to Him Who, being the ‘way, the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), fulfills all their spiritual expectations, and even infinitely surpasses them. (Vatican Council II. Decree Ad gentes, no. 7.13, December 7, 1965)

All men are called to belong to the Church

All men are called to belong to the new People of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God’s will may be fulfilled. In the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all His children, scattered as they were, would finally be gathered together as one (cf. Jn 11:52). It was for this purpose that God sent His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things (cf. Heb 1:2), that be might be teacher, king and priest of all, the head of the new and universal people of the sons of God. (Vatican Council II, Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 13, November 21, 1964)

The Church both prays and labors so that the entire world may become the People of God

By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. […] In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe. (Vatican Council II. Constitution Lumen gentium, no. 17, November 21, 1964)

Paul VI

The Lord wanted His Church to be universal

The first Christians readily expressed their deep faith in the Church by describing her as being spread throughout the universe. They were fully conscious of belonging to a large community which neither space nor time can limit: From the just Abel right to the last of the elect (St Gregory the Great, Homil. in Evang.19/1), ‘indeed to the ends of the earth (Acta 1:8; cf. Didac. 9, 1) to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). This is how the Lord wanted His Church to be: universal, a great tree whose branches shelter the birds of the air (cf. Mt 13:32), a net which catches fish of every kind (cf. Mt 13:47) or which Peter drew in filled with one hundred and fifty-three big fish, (cf. Jn 21:11) a flock which a single shepherd pastures (cf. Jn 10:1-16). A universal Church without boundaries or frontiers except, alas, those of the heart and mind of sinful man. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 61, 1975)


Jesus Christ bade all men to follow Him

Wherefore Jesus Christ bade all men, present and future, follow Him as their leader and Saviour; and this, not merely as individuals, but as forming a society, organized and united in mind. In this way a duly constituted society should exist, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Satis congnitum, no. 10, June 29, 1896)

John Paul II

Jesus Christ embraces humanity yesterday, today and for ever

The Church has endured for 2000 years. Like the mustard seed in the Gospel, she has grown and become a great tree, able to cover the whole of humanity with her branches (cf. Mt 13:31-32). The Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, thus addresses the question of membership in the Church and the call of all people to belong to the People of God: ‘All are called to be part of this Catholic unity of the new People of God’ […] Continuing this approach, we can also appreciate more clearly the Gospel parable of the leaven (cf. Mt 13:33): Christ, like a divine leaven, always and ever more fully penetrates the life of humanity, spreading the work of salvation accomplished in the Paschal Mystery. What is more, he embraces within his redemptive power the whole past history of the human race, beginning with the first Adam. The future also belongs to him: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Heb 13:8). (John Paul II. Apostolic Letter Tertio millenio advenient, no. 56, November 10, 1994)

IV – Evangelization is the best assistance that the Church can offer humanity

John Paul II

The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to a pseudo-science of well-being

But what moves me even more strongly to proclaim the urgency of missionary evangelization is the fact that it is the primary service which the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world, a world which has experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself. […] The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world a ‘gradual secularization of salvation’ has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated, reduced to his merely horizontal dimension. We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation, one which embraces the whole person and all mankind, and opens up the wondrous prospect of divine filiation. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris missio, no. 2.11, December 7, 1990)

Erroneous conceptions of the Church’s mission: silence about Christ

Nowadays the kingdom is much spoken of, but not always in a way consonant with the thinking of the Church. […] The Church’s task is described as though it had to proceed in two directions: on the one hand promoting such ‘values of the kingdom’ as peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood, etc,, while on the other hand fostering dialogue between peoples, cultures and religions, so that through a mutual enrichment they might help the world to be renewed and to journey ever closer toward the kingdom. Together with positive aspects, these conceptions often reveal negative aspects as well. First, they are silent about Christ… (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris missio, no. 17, December 7, 1990)

Pius XII

There is no duty more urgent than to preach Christ to the men of our time

Can there be, Venerable Brethren, a greater or more urgent duty than to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8) to the men of our time? Can there be anything nobler than to unfurl the ‘Ensign of the King’ before those who have followed and still follow a false standard, and to win back to the victorious banner of the Cross those who have abandoned it? What heart is not inflamed, is not swept forward to help at the sight of so many brothers and sisters who, misled by error, passion, temptation and prejudice, have strayed away from faith in the true God and have lost contact with the joyful and life-giving message of Christ? (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no. 6, October 20, 1939)

Pius X

Nothing is more desirable to Jesus Christ than labor in teaching the eternal profit of the soul

We do not think it necessary to set forth here the praises of such instruction or to point out how meritorious it is in God’s sight. If, assuredly, the alms with which we relieve the needs of the poor are highly praised by the Lord, how much more precious in His eyes, then, will be the zeal and labor expended in teaching and admonishing, by which we provide not for the passing needs of the body but for the eternal profit of the soul! Nothing, surely, is more desirable, nothing more acceptable to Jesus Christ, the Savior of souls, Who testifies of Himself through Isaias: ‘To bring good news to the poor he has sent me’ (Lk 4:18). Here then it is well to emphasize and insist that for a priest there is no duty more grave or obligation more binding than this. […] Because the Christian people expect from them knowledge of the divine law, and it was for that end that they were sent by God. (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo nimis, no. 8-9, April 15, 1905)

Seriously mistaken: those who seek the material well-being of the body but are silent about spiritual welfare

And so too are all they seriously mistaken who, occupying themselves with the welfare of the people, and especially upholding the cause of the lower classes, seek to promote above all else the material well-being of the body and of life, but are utterly silent about their spiritual welfare and the very serious duties which their profession as Christians enjoins upon them. (Pius X. Encyclical Iucunda sane, no. 26, March 12, 1904)

Pius XII

Charity is well employed in propagating the Kingdom of Christ and in bringing salvation to many

Your charity can certainly be employed in no better cause since it is thus destined to propagate the Kingdom of Christ and to bring salvation to so many still outside the Fold. It is the Lord Himself Who ‘gave…to everyone of them commandment concerning his neighbor’ (Eccl 17:12). (Pius XII. Encyclical Evangelii praecones, no. 67, June 2, 1951)

Benedict XV

Evangelizing is a fraternal help to unbelievers

For ‘He (God) gave to every one of them commandment concerning his neighbor’ (Eccl 17:12); and the strictness of this command varies in proportion to the seriousness of the neighbor’s need. Now what class of men is more in need of fraternal help than unbelievers, who live in ignorance of God, and consequently, bound by the chains of their blind and violent desires, are enslaved in the most hideous of all the forms of slavery, the service of Satan? Anyone then who contributes whatever services he can to the work of bringing the light of faith to them – and helping the work of the missions is the best means – would accomplish two purposes at the same time. He would be fulfilling his obligation in this important matter, and he would also be thanking God in a particularly appropriate way for the faith that has been given to him. (Benedict XV. Apostolic letter Maximum illud, November 30, 1919)

Pius XI

Evangelization: charity that surpasses all other kinds of good works

Surely the obligation of charity, which binds us to God, demands not only that we strive to increase by every means within our power the number of those who adore Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ (Jn 4:24) but also that we try to bring under the rule of the gentle Christ as many other men as possible […] Since Jesus Christ has proclaimed that the special sign of discipleship with Him is that we ‘have love one for another’ (Jn 13:35; 15:12) can we give a mark of greater love for our neighbors than to assist them in putting behind themselves the darkness of error by instructing them in the true faith of Christ? As a matter of fact, this type of charity surpasses all other kinds of good works inspired by love just as the mind surpasses the body, heaven surpasses earth, eternity surpasses time. (Pius XI. Encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae, no. 19-21, February 28, 1926)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The love which impels the Church to communicate to all a sharing in divine life also causes her to pursue true temporal good

The Church’s essential mission, following that of Christ, is a mission of evangelization and salvation. She draws her zeal from the divine love. Evangelization is the proclamation of salvation, which is a gift of God. […] But the love which impels the Church to communicate to all people a sharing in the grace of divine life also causes her, through the effective action of her members, to pursue people’s true temporal good, help them in their needs, provide for their education and promote an integral liberation from everything that hinders the development of individuals. The Church desires the good of man in all his dimensions, first of all as a member of the city of God, and then as a member of the earthly city. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Libertatis conscientia, no. 63, March 22, 1986)

Paul VI

Without true conversion, a society that is just and fraternal is not possible

The Church considers it to be undoubtedly important to build up structures which are more human, more just, more respectful of the rights of the person and less oppressive and less enslaving, but she is conscious that the best structures and the most idealized systems soon become inhuman if the inhuman inclinations of the human heart are not made wholesome, if those who live in these structures or who rule them do not undergo a conversion of heart and of outlook. […] Having said this, we rejoice that the Church is becoming ever more conscious of the proper manner and strictly evangelical means that she possesses in order to collaborate in the liberation of many. And what is she doing? She is trying more and more to encourage large numbers of Christians to devote themselves to the liberation of men. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 36-38, December 8, 1975)

Vatican Council II

Communicating divine life, the Church makes man and history more human

Pursuing the saving purpose which is proper to her, the Church does not only communicate divine life to men but in some way casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, by the way in which it strengthens the seams of human society and imbues the everyday activity of men with a deeper meaning and importance. Thus through her individual matters and her whole community, the Church believes she can contribute greatly toward making the family of man and its history more human. (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, no. 40, December 7, 1975)

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  • 116 - The thought comes to mind of the temptation of connecting the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial blows. No, the Gospel is proclaimed with gentleness, with fraternity, with love
  • 131 - ‘I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation’
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    3 thoughts on “47 – Being a minority is actually a strength. We have to be a leavening infinitely smaller than the mass. Our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs

    1. He seems to love contradictions. All that is Catholic he brands as old and outdated, and then pays homage to the great spiritual wisdom of the eastern religious sects. He sheds abundant tears for the muslims in Lampedusa and not a word for the Christians in Syria. He mocks catholic mothers as rabbits, and then defends sodomy in the name of family love….If someone could make a collection of his contradictions, it would be a useful addition to Denzinger.

    2. Pope Francis says that the Church should be a minority, and yet wants everyone in on his ecology spree. Anyone noted the contradiction?

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