I often give talks highlighting the differences between Judaism and Christianity. One of the points I usually make is that Jews are not called to convert Gentiles to Judaism, whereas Christians are commanded to convert nonChristians to Christianity.
As soon as I make this point someone in the audience usually raises a hand to interrupt saying, “While that may be true of many Protestants, it isn’t true of us Catholics. Our missions around the world are humanitarian and do not focus on proselytizing.”
I’m not a Catholic, and I find it politick to acquiesce to people who know more about their religion than I do, but now I will have to challenge my Roman Catholic dissenters. On December 14th, Pope Benedict XVI (16) [Why do Catholics insist on using Roman numerals; it makes the pope sound like a Mazda?] said that Catholics should aim to convert people and not limit themselves to good works. So as Roman Catholics are roaming around the planet they should try harder to save souls, and not just feed bodies.
This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Eight (VIII) years ago the Pope said that Catholics alone have “the fullness of the means of salvation,” so it is only natural that they would want to share that fullness with the rest of us. As Father Agostino di Noia said on Vatican Radio (which, I suspect, only plays music sold by Virgin Records), “The fundamental problem is a pluralistic theology of religion, which essentially states that all religions are equally valid in leading a person to salvation.”
He’s right. If any old religion can get you to salvation, why join one that is still using Roman numerals?
While I can’t prove this, and in fact have no evidence what so ever to back it up, I think the reason that Protestant churches are making so many converts in formally Catholic dominated countries is that they use Arabic numerals. Of course I also think that it is because America is a predominantly Protestant country using Arabic numerals that so many Arabs hate us. If we hadn’t stolen their numbers they might have made it into the 21st (XXIst) century without us have to bomb them into the 12th (XIIth) century first.
One good note to this story is that the new Catholic conversions will be nicer than the old ones. According to the Vatican, today’s Catholics must “safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person” they are trying to convert. In the old days they gave us Jews two choices: refuse to convert and die now, or convert and die later. Today we have the option of converting now or burning in hell for all eternity. Oh well, VI of I, half dozen of another.