Bracing article in L’Osservatore Romano

By Inos Biffi, translated at Rorate-Caeli.  Bracing.  

That the Church not only prays for but also dedicates her total commitment to the conversion of all men to Christ is part of her essential mission.  After his Resurrection Christ entrusted to his Church a precise command:  “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This  Christian discipleship, evangelization in every place, of “all peoples” and of all creatures, this is the mindful intention of Christ, and in fact from her very beginnings the Church has understood herself in terms of this radical missionary effort.

This permanent and universal mission to the world is part of the Church’s very nature.  If this were in any way diminished, she would no longer be the Church of Christ.  To announce the Gospel means to proclaim that only in the Gospel message and its acceptance is it possible for one to be saved.  The words of Jesus are peremptory:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16, 16).  To affirm that someone in good faith who adheres to a religion can be saved means instead to recognize that the will to universal salvation operates in the life of those who carry out the good by heeding  an upright and clear conscience.

Whatever truth or holiness there is in every religion is objectively the imprint of Christ and a desire for Him.  Therefore this shows how misleading it is to hold , in order to show respect to all religions, that one must avoid the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only Savior, and, if anything, one need only to see to it that someone remain in a full and coherent fidelity to his own “credo”.

Certainly religions are to be respected. No one can be forced to believe in the Gospel.  God Himself is the safe-keeper of interior religious freedom.  But this does not entail making all religions equivalent to the Gospel or the obfuscation of Christ as the only Savior for all time and for everyone.

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