The priest who told you this was in error.
Let me ask you a question.
If instead of living in 2014 A.D. both of us were living in 35 A.D. do you think any of the Apostles would say:
You don't have to join Jesus' Church, you just have to believe in him.
You see, if we believe in Jesus, we should obey Jesus and those Apostles (and their immediate successors) He put in charge of His Church.
For a non-Christian, believing in Jesus is a great first step but let's remember what Jesus, Himself said before His Ascension:
“18 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen
- Does this sound like believing in Jesus is enough when He is telling His Apostles to teach and baptize in His Name?
What is a Hindu going to teach:
- Hinduism or
- Catholic Christianity?
If we believe in Jesus, we can easily deduce from this that we should:
- Obey Jesus and the authority He delegated to others before His Glorious Ascension, and
- Know what Jesus would want us to believe especially since both He and St. Paul warned about other false Jesus' that would come in the future.
If we took this priest's advice, your Hindu friend would never be baptized or be able to receive any of the seven sacraments — the spiritual dynamite of our Church!
Non-Christians may be saved if they follow the dictates of their own conscience but the normative way anyone on the face of the earth is incorporated into the Church is through water Baptism.
For exceptional situations, not ordinary ones, non-Christians may be saved by a Baptism of desire or of blood. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
CCC 846 . . . they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
I told her that evangelizing was my part and conversion was God's part.
You want to give her and other non-Catholic Christian good reasons to become a Catholic Christian but you also have to let them decide. We are not Muslims. We do not force non-Catholics to become Catholic.
I am not asking whether she will be saved or not. My question is:
- Did I do the right thing or should I have persuaded her to convert to Catholicism?
You should encourage her to consider becoming Catholic because it is the only Church Jesus founded. All the other christian churches are man-made churches started by false Christ's.
If the Vatican has said that people can be saved without converting but by believing in Jesus, then I am happy. It's not easy to convert as a lot of problems can arise among family members.
Our job as Catholic evangelizers is to spread the full Catholic Gospel, which includes:
- Baptism and the other six sacraments
- the Oral Tradition of the Church, and
the on-going teaching authority of the Church (called the Magisterium) that Jesus promised to St. Peter (See Matthew 16:13-20, Matthew 28:18-20, and 1 Timothy 3:15)
Your Hindu friends are missing out big time by not being able to participate in the sacraments of the Church and most importantly, look at what Jesus is clearing saying in Mark's Gospel:
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
You should point out to your Hindu friends or any non-Christian, that Jesus is equating believing with being baptized into His Church. Believing in Jesus is not enough (or He would have said
He who believes OR is baptized will be saved.) They need to be validly baptized into the only Church He founded before His Ascension: the Catholic Church.
Yes, I agree, having a change of faith in a family environment can bring on many problems.
Most of the time this is because:
- people have a bias misunderstanding of what Catholics believe based on their upbringing, or
family members are holding a grudge against the Church due to a:
- bad experience with a scandalous person in the Church or
- a Church teaching that would require them to have a change of lifestyle.
The non-Christian has to see beyond that. We should not join a Church because:
- It challenges us, or
- spiritual makes us feel good
No, we should join a Church because we believe on issues of faith and eternal salvation it is a truth-telling Church. Encourage her to make an appointment with a priest to be baptized.
In the end, I believe if the person has to convert then it is that person's decision but the more important thing is that the non-Christian believes in Jesus Christ.
Belief without following and obeying (The One, The Christ), is not belief. It is lip service without a commitment. The very first Christians accepted being:
- burnt at the stake, and
- being boiled in oil
instead of denying one of the teachings of our faith. We need more people like them instead of the gutless cowards that make up 95% of the Church.
I hope this helps,