ROME — Pope Francis urged the Christians of Cyprus Friday to bear witness to Jesus Christ but never to proselytize.
Proselytism — or the attempt to convert others to one’s faith — is different from evangelization, the pope suggested, which is the joyful witness of one’s experience of Christ.

Speaking at Mass in Nicosia, the pontiff reflected on the day’s gospel reading that recounts the healing of two blind men, who, despite being “sternly” warned by Jesus not to talk about their cure, spread the news throughout the region.

“There is a bit of irony in this fact: Jesus had told them not to tell anyone, but they do the exact opposite,” the pope noted. “From the story, however, we understand that it is not their intention to disobey the Lord; they simply cannot contain the enthusiasm of having been healed, the joy of their encounter with him.”

Pope Francis celebrates mass at Nicosia’s main football stadium, in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, Europe’s last divided capital, on December 3, 2 …