Pope at Angelus: The root of proselytism is closing oneself to God's Action

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Thousands of pilgrims accompanied Pope Francis during the Angelus prayer in spite of the heat, that is still intense in the Eternal City at the end of September.

Pope Francis explained that many people or Christian communities have a closed attitude toward new experiences or people who do not belong to the group. 

He said rigid attitude seeks to protect itself from false imitators or preserve the authenticity of the Christian experience. However, he warned that, deep down, this way of thinking leads to proselytism. 

“At the same time there is sort of fear of a 'competition' and this is awful. The fear of competition, that someone can draw new followers, means that one does not come to appreciate the good that others do. It’s not right because 'he’s not one of ours,' it’s said. It’s a form of self-reference. Here, rather, is the root of proselytism.”

This is why the pope asked Christians to change their attitude by following the example of the freedom that God himself gave to men through Christ.

“He calls us not to think according to the categories of 'friend or enemy,' 'us or them,' 'who’s on the inside/who’s on the outside,' but to go beyond. To open the heart so as to recognize God’s presence and His action, even in unusual and unpredictable areas and in people who are not part of our circle.”

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis remembered those affected by the Indonesian earthquake and subsequent tsunami. There are hundreds of fatalities and missing persons.

“I pray for the deceased – which are unfortunately numerous – for the wounded, and for those who have lost their homes and employment. May the Lord console them and sustain the efforts of those who are taking part in the relief efforts.” 

The pope invited all the pilgrims in the square to join him in praying a Hail Mary for all those affected.

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