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Pope Affirms Right to Convert Non-Believers to Christianity

ICC Note: In the discussion of religious freedom around the world, one of the most controversial topics is whether missionary work ought to be defended. Here the Pope has reaffirmed that Christian mission is “the very expression of religious freedom.”

By Ethan Cole
5/19/08 Vatican ( – Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that the Roman Catholic Church has the indisputable right and duty to convert anyone to Christianity.

The Church’s central mission is evangelism, the pope firmly told a Vatican body responsible for encouraging Catholic missionary activity, according to Agence France-Presse.

Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospels, called on the conversion of “all nations,” Benedict said,” and this commission remains “an obligatory mandate for the entire Church and for every believer in Christ.”

“This apostolic commitment is both a duty and an inalienable right, the very expression of religious freedom with its moral, social and political dimensions,” the pontiff said.

Benedict’s address comes two months after he baptized a prominent Muslim author into the Catholic Church during an Easter service that was broadcasted worldwide. The baptism of Egyptian-born, Italian writer Magni Allam infuriated some Muslims who saw the act as an assault on Islam.

But the Vatican had said no hostility was intended in baptizing Allam during a broadcasted Easter ceremony, according to The Associated Press.

While Benedict may assert the right of Christians to convert non-believers to the faith, he has also been ramping up efforts to reach out to moderate Muslims for interfaith dialogues… [Go To Full Story]