Citing the deaths and suffering of Christians, in the past six months Pope Francis:
• called for “concrete participation and tangible help in the defense and protection of our brothers and our sisters.”
• urged the international community to “take action” in the face of “unacceptable” crimes against religious minorities, particularly Christians.
• said the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq.
In contrast, the commercial media widely reported that Pope Francis said, “People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian.” He further criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.” And the New York Times reported: “The sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks in the Middle East have created a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business.”
The pope’s prelates have been more explicit.
Military action is the “best solution” so that Iraqi Christians “can come back and live in peace in their homes and continue their lives there,” Iraqi Archbishop Yohanna Mouche said. The prelate “called on world government to increase their efforts to defeat ISIS.”
“We need political action and proportional military action” in Iraq, according to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
London Cardinal Vincent Nichols told the BBC “removing the Islamic State (IS) by force ‘has to be achieved’ for peace in Iraq.”
Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, said he believes, “like Pope Francis, that it is morally allowable to stop an unjust aggressor.”
“An international security force would also be needed in order to protect areas adjacent to territories occupied by ISIS, to allow many displaced to return to their homes. But all this is probably not enough seeing as though the prospect of military intervention is said to be inevitable,” said Archbishop Giorgio Lingua who has served in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State since 1992.
“It’s unfortunate for a Catholic bishop to say that military action is needed, but in a very limited and targeted way to fight ISIS,” responded Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda when asked “What message do you want to share with the U.S. government?” Warda gave the keynote address at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention held Aug. 4-6 in Philadelphia. The Knights will launch a national television ad campaign to draw more attention to the plight of persecuted Christians. “Christians in the Middle East are facing a dire situation and even extinction, while the response from the international community has been woefully inadequate,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said.
The prelate of Wall Street, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, was invited to address the conference, “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response” sponsored by the Hudson Institute. Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is senior vice president. The institute is funded by “many of the foundations and corporations that have bankrolled the conservative movement,” and some of the trustees, staff and fellows are the men who took us to war in Iraq.
Sarkis Boghjalian, executive director of one of the US bishops’ agencies, was also invited to speak at the same conference. He said, “ISIS is waging an uncompromising war that amounts to religious and territorial cleansing of Christians and other minorities from the Middle East, and the recent event in Texas reminds us that ISIS is not just a regional threat. The world must respond!”
The pope’s apostolic nuncio to the UN, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, was invited to speak to a congressional hearing by the House subcommittee on global human rights chaired by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. He warned them that the “flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet.”
On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis “demanded an immediate end to what he called the ‘genocide’ of Christians taking place in the Middle East and beyond, describing it as a third world war.”
Lee Marsden, professor of international relations, specializing in religion and security at the University of East Anglia, said there could be an element of Islamophobia in some Christian campaign organizations, “but there is also an element of victimhood – a view that the Church has always been persecuted, which feeds into the martyrdom narrative.”
While all people of good will abhor ISIS brutality against Christians, many more Muslims have been killed, maimed and raped by ISIS.
Before ISIS began targeting Christians in mid-2014, Pope Francis held a day of prayer for peace in Syria on September 7, 2013. “Addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, he issued a long, impassioned appeal for peace in Syria and across the Middle East, saying God and history would be the judge of those who promoted violence or prevented peace.” He urged the international community to make every effort to bring about peace based on “dialogue and negotiations.” “Violence never leads to peace, war leads to war, violence leads to violence,” he said. He proclaimed “War, never again.”
My thanks to Catholic blogger, Gerald Slevin, for the information on Cardinal Dolan.
(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press,2009))
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