In the pope's recent visit to Mexico and St. Louis, he demonstrated once again that, "Rome when in minority is as gentle as a lamb, when in equality is as clever as a fox, and when in the majority is as fierce as a tiger."
In St. Louis, he went to great lengths to woo members of the other major U.S. religious groups. A special ecumenical service in the St. Louis cathedral was opened with the blowing of a shofar, a ram's horn used in Jewish ceremonies and a Rabbi was invited to read a portion
of Isaiah. He was one of 95 representatives invited to the service from non-Catholic religions. Included were Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders.
In "great swelling words" the pope declared, "I express my friendship and esteem for my
fellow Christians, for the Jewish community in America, for our Muslim brothers and sisters. I express my cordial respect for people of all religions and for every person of good will."
However, in Mexico City, he made it very clear which category of people were not persons of "good will."
One of the objectives of the pope's mission to America was to deliver a 100-page "apostolic exhortation." This document was the written summation of the pope's conclusions after a recent "Synod of the Americas," a lengthy meeting in Rome of all the Western Hemisphere Bishops in which they report to the pope on the state of their jurisdictions.
One of the major concerns at the synod was the massive exodus of members from the Roman Catholic church in Latin America. In the last three or four decades more than 40 million people have left Romanism and joined various Protestant groups.
In a section of the "ex-hortation" addressing "The challenge of the sects," the pope declares, "The proselytizing activity of the sects and new religious groups in many parts of America is a grave hindrance to the work of evangelization."
As with most of the pope's pronouncements, a translation is needed. "Proselytizing" is, of course, synonymous with "soul winning" and includes any attempt to inform Roman Catholics that they are not saved and need to leave the pope's pagan-based religion.
"Sects and new religious groups" is anyone who practices "proselytizing." This, of course, includes a few Mormons, JWs, Moonies, and other cults which lead the people farther from the Bible. But most leaving Catholicism have joined the groups of Bible-believing soulwinners.
"Evangelization" is the pope's substitute for evangelism where someone is won to the bondage of rituals and sacraments of Catholicism instead of freedom in Christ.
For the world religions
and even some Protestant denominations which do
not attempt to bring the truth
to Roman Catholics, the
pope has a different name: "separated brethren." He even called the Muslims "brothers and sisters" and welcomed the fellowship of Buddhists and Hindus in St. Louis.
But those who "proselytize" are fast becoming public enemy number one throughout the world. In Muslim countries, winning a soul to Christ can get you a death sentence. In Buddhist and Hindu cultures, soul winning can provoke mob violence or jail on trumped-up charges.
In Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico, Bible-believers in Catholic communities have been driven from homes and farms and their churches burned while local authorities looked the other way. It isn't likely that the pope's recent comments will make it any easier for these believers.
How blessed we are in the U.S. to not fear for our lives if we witness to our neighbors. But
the clouds are gathering. We better work diligently while