Pope Francis has said that evangelising is not to knock on doors declaring that 'Christ is risen' but instead to live out the faith through actions and to talk "with meekness, with love, with no desire to win an argument".
In his homily on Friday during Mass at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope referred to a question he was asked during the recent World Youth Day festival in Poland: "What should I say to my friend who is an atheist?"
Pope Francis answered that "the last thing you need to do is say something! Begin to do, and he will see what you are doing and ask you about it; and when he asks you, then tell him."
He referred to the example of the quite form of evangelism offered by Saint Peter Claver, whose feast day was on Friday. The Pope said: "This man did not stroll along saying he evangelised: he did not reduce evangelism to a rote task, and even to a proselytising; he proclaimed Jesus Christ with his actions, speaking to the slaves, living with them, living like them – and there are many like him in the Church – many people who annihilate themselves to proclaim Jesus Christ. All of us, brothers and sisters, have an obligation to evangelise – and that does not mean a knock on the neighbor's door to say: 'Christ is risen!' – it is living the faith, talking about it with meekness, with love, with no desire to win an argument, but [to give it away] for free: giving away freely that, which God has given to me – that is what it means to evangelise."
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis dismissed the notion of winning people over to the faith in order to "boast". He added that proselytising is a source of pride and drew a contrast between that and true evangelising.
"This is the boast: I am proud of myself. This reduces the Gospel to a function or even a source of pride: I go to preach the gospel and I've brought many people into the Church," he said. "To proselytise: that too is a source of pride. To evangelise is not to proselytise. That is, neither coast along, nor reduce the Gospel to rote work, nor to proselytise: none of these is really to evangelise. This is what Paul says here [in the 1st Letter to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22b-27)]: 'For me it is not a boast. For me it is a necessity', adding, 'one that is laid on me.' A Christian has an obligation, the force of which is such as to make it like a heartfelt necessity to carry the name of Jesus."