Asian prelate: culturally insensitive proselytism is leading to persecution
November 27, 2013
An influential Asian prelate said that a culturally insensitive proselytism associated with Pentecostal sects and some Catholic movements is provoking opposition to Jesus Christ and his teaching.
Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, chairman of the executive board of the Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, distinguished proselytism from evangelization.
“If we are persecuted because of our carelessness, institutional arrogance, lack of cultural integration, we should not consider ourselves martyrs,” said Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, chairman of the executive board of the Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
“No doubt there may be opposition, but it is not against Jesus or his message, but against the negative impression developed towards Christians, that is, towards those who are associated with the message,” he told the Fides news agency.
Calling for a “revival of missionary enthusiasm” and emphasizing “the need to share the Good News with great self-confidence,” the retired archbishop of Guwahati, India, upheld the example of St. Paul.
“He was sensitive to the cultural and ethnic heritage of every people,” he said. “The apostle always began by making the concerns and anxieties of the people his, and making his preaching understandable through the use of their categories, adapting to their world view and to mentality of the place.”
Archbishop Menamparampil’s distinction between evangelization and proselytism is not novel; in a 2007 document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted:
In the Christian context, the term proselytism was often used as a synonym for missionary activity. More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.
- Archbishop Menamparampil: "Persecuted? Beware of false martyrdom and proselytism" (Fides)
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization