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Is Pope Francis efficient at converting non-believers to Catholicism?

Is Pope Francis efficient at converting non-believers to Catholicism?

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Answer Expert #10521

Many people are impressed by the way Pope Francis communicates with non-believers and he has certainly made a point of talking to openly and with compassion to people who are not members of the Catholic Church. Soon after he took office, the Pope was quoted as reaching out to marginal groups including gay people with statements such as “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” (Squires, 2013, p. 1). This, coupled with an emphasis on mercy and love for others, could be interpreted as evidence that that Pope Francis is a very capable evangelist who is efficient at converting non-believers to Catholicism.

It may be too soon, however, to jump to this conclusion because it is not yet clear what the reaction of unbelievers has been, upon hearing the Pontiff’s message. An increase in goodwill and better communication with non-believers is not the same as an increase in converts to Catholicism. Another point to consider, is the fact that the Church’s doctrine on conversion makes it clear that it is Jesus Christ who converts non-believers, through the work of the Holy Spirit, and not any individual human being, even one as respected as the Pope (Schneible, 2016). Only God knows what is in people’s hearts, and conversion to Catholicism can be defined in different ways, from superficial lip-service by means of Baptism and First Communion, to full and committed membership as a firm believer. It remains to be seen how effective Pope Francis has been in contributing to God’s work of converting people to Catholicism, but we can conclude for now that he has succeeded in starting new debates and focusing on outreach to everyone in the world.

References

Schneible, A. (2016) Pope: Authentic conversion only comes from Christ. Catholic News Agency (18 June). Available at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-authentic-conversion-only-comes-from-christ-72528/ [Accessed 25 October 2016].

Squires, N. (2013) Pope Francis reaches out to atheists and agnostics. The Telegraph (11 September). Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/10302850/Pope-Francis-reaches-out-to-atheists-and-agnostics.html [Accessed 25 October 2016].