By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news.
The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi – who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself Caliph Ibrahim – issued an ultimatum this past Saturday.
Those who are Christians in that part of the former territory of Iraq and Syria which he now claims as an Islamic Caliphate must convert to Islam, face the sword, flee the country or have all their property seized and pay the tax levied against dhimmis, or non-muslims.
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In other words, they will become indentured servants, living under the boot of a violent Islamist regime.They will lose their freedom.
At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place where they would receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did so. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians:
“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” It was broadcast from loudspeakers. It was placed on the internet. The Christians had until midday Saturday to comply.
Christian homes in the City are now marked for seizure by the Islamist extremists who follow this self-proclaimed Caliph. Even though Christians have been in this ancient territory since the first century of Christianity, they are being forced to leave.
The violations of human rights, international law and justice are evident to all. Christian tradition traces the planting of the Gospel to the missionary efforts of the Apostle Thomas with the assistance of Thaddeus or Jude. Christians have an undeniable claim to live freely on this land which precedes the very arrival of Islam.
So, the mass exodus of Christians is now being reported on many news sources. Perhaps the world is finally waking up. I have my doubts. The reports are only on those news sources who care about this evil. Sadly, not many Americans seem to be paying attention at all.
The Obama Administration does not seem to be all that concerned. Except for some poorly delivered statements, it is business as usual for an administration seeking to radically restructure the United States into something which resembles the worst social experiment in some time.
ISIS Jihadi thugs have already taken an axe to the tomb of Jonah, destroying it with a kind of gleeful and mad abandon. They ripped down the Cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral and replaced it with their dreaded black flag.
Fortunately, the Holy See, Church leaders and even the leadership of the United Nations are speaking out strongly. Vatican Radio issued the following statement on Tuesday, July 22, 2014:
Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief.
Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul.
The Patriarch told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR (Religious Information Service), that Pope Francis called him Sunday 20 July to express his solidarity with Iraqi Christians.
During the 9 minute phone call, the Patriarch thanked the Pope and asked him to intensify his efforts to engage world leaders, putting them face to face with the facts on the ground: that in the province of Nineveh a massive religious “cleansing” campaign is underway to rid the region of those who do not share the beliefs of the new occupiers.
At the end of the call, Pope Francis bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon all the eastern Christians with the assurance that he “will always keep them in his prayers for peace and security.”
At his traditional Angelus blessing also on Sunday, the Pope offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who “are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything with them” and called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts.
Just recently, Patriarch Younan had denounced an arson attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) militants on the Episcopal headquarters of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Mosul.
We must wake up to what is actually going on. These Christians being forced from their home are our brethren! We are joined to them. We have an obligation to stand with them.
I have written numerous articles seeking to call attention to our persecuted Christian brethren in Iraq. Their plight has grown worse since the U.S. intervention on March 19, 2003.
Before the intervention on March 19, 2003, I disturbed some colleagues and friends by publicly opposing intervention in what came to be called Iraq II.
I supported the first intervention in Iraq, after the Kuwaitis requested our assistance against an unjust aggressor named Saddam Hussein.
However, in light of the teaching of the Catholic Church, and based upon my own efforts to inform my conscience by it, I opposed the Second Iraq War. I even contributed a chapter to a book dedicated to such opposition.
I concluded back then that the decision to engage in what was called a pre-emptive war with Iraq failed to meet the conditions, commonly referred to as the Just War theory, summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (�2309):
…the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.
The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
I determined that the very notion of a pre-emptive war was antithetical to this analysis. The determination as to whether any war can be justified is rooted in the broader understanding of self-defense.
I was not then, and am not now, convinced that the entry of the United States into Iraq on March 19, 2003 was a legitimate response to the horror unleashed against our nation on September 11, 2001.
In spite of what some sincere Catholics – whom I respected – sought to say back then, the leaders of the Catholic Church were overwhelming in their unified opposition to beginning the Second Iraq war. They were unanimous in their conviction that no attack was imminent, and, as a result, war was far from justifiable.
Deep reservations were raised by numerous Bishops’ Councils; then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State; Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; and most ardently by now Saint John Paul II, the Holy Father back then, who clearly stated that not only was war a human failure but that specific war was unjustified.
After the intervention, as time progressed, my opposition became moot.
The war had become such a debacle and the brave men and women of our heroic Armed Forces deserved our unflagging support. Those who initially supported the second Iraq war and those who opposed it, agreed that we could not abandon the Iraqi people in their great hour of need. The Holy See expressed its continuing concern for the people of Iraq after the intervention.
Since the U.S. troops were rather hastily withdrawn from Iraq, the wisdom of our entire enterprise has been debated and will continue to be debated. If lessons can be learned, they should be learned. However, the current crisis in Iraq today requires a fresh analysis, in light of the situation being faced on the ground in July of 2014.
We need to pray for an end to the evil assault upon Christians, and all of the other innocent people being persecuted by these Islamist thugs who have gathered under the banner of ISIS. In particular, we who bear the name Christian need to pray for the Christians of Iraq.
They are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are joined in a special way to them in a band of solidarity which finds its roots in our common Baptism.
We need to pray for the leaders of the United States – and leaders of all of the other Nations – who are evaluating how to respond to the current situation in Iraq. Action is required. We cannot sit idly by while a new form of religious genocide unfolds.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.