Cardinals: Don’t use charity as a conversion tool

Two top cardinals say that as Catholics engage in charity around the world, they must be careful not to put their desire to convert people to their faith ahead of their missionary work.

Speaking at the “Charity will never end” conference organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council Cor Unum, an umbrella office to coordinate the Church’s charitable works, Cardinal Antonio Tagle of the Philippines said charity should not be practiced as a way of achieving other ends, “especially proselytism or imposing, even in subtle ways, the Church’s faith on others.”

According to the cardinal, using charitable acts for conversions is “manipulation,” but that doesn’t mean that God should be completely left out of the Church’s missionary work.

“The Christian truth is beautiful,” Tagle said. “And beautiful things attract. So proselytism is imposing, but this good news, beautiful in itself, will attract people without imposing.”

His view was echoed by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who defined proselytism as “a manipulation of the conscience.”

Referring to the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis in Europe, Müller said Christians should be charitable “without hidden intentions.”

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