I have noticed in several places in the blogosphere that a certain quote from Pope Francis is taken as evidence he is a modernist.
More recently, on August 7th, Pope Francis offered this gem as reported by CNS:
“Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.”
I do not interpret this the same way at all. If you look at “Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no!” and stop there, then of course it does look like Pope Francis is saying it does not matter if one is Catholic or not.
But this rhetorical question and answer is qualified by this: “Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.”
This is what I understand. We do not have to convince people using our own abilities, strength of argument, and means of persuasion to convince people to become Catholic. In fact, if I speak from my own experience, when Catholics intellectually assaulted me with “There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church” or other like doctrines, I shrank from them and the Church because of the pressure that did not seem to come from God at all.
What drew me was love, patience, kindness and not heavy-handed doctrinal arguments. Do we have enough faith to let Jesus do the rest? Can we stop our “doing” and our “persuading” and our running out ahead of the Lord, working, working, working from our own steam and have faith He will act if we do not?
This is not some loosey-goosey, live and let live, relativism the Pope is preaching here, but a profoundly mystical confidence that God does work if we don’t rush out and get in His way like a bunch of stern scolds, waving the letter of the law without expressing any of the Spirit.
Believing the right way is of crucial, crucial importance. But did we learn the faith from memorizing a book or from having the Creeds drilled into our head or from a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and a trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth?
Pope Francis is putting the stress on the latter.