“The Sunni militants frequently attacked Christians and churches, terrorizing the community and forcing many to flee, some to the West, some to the Kurdish region where tolerance for religious minorities is much greater than in the rest of Iraq. Of the estimated 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq on the eve of the US-led invasion, about 500,000 are left.”
Yet Christians in the West remained silent and indifferent as this happened. Why? The Catholic Church’s supine and pollyannish stance in the face of the advancing jihad, and active campaign to mislead Catholics about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, is a moral failure the likes of which have seldom been seen in history, and poses a severe challenge to any claim it makes to moral authority.
“We have to understand that totalitarianism based on Islamic creed is the worst among all systems of government. Yes, my friends, the very survival of Christians in the cradle of Christianity is quite in danger.” So said the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, Ignatius Joseph III Younan.
Yet the Church as a whole has said almost nothing at all. Why? Why are Church leaders in the West so uniformly silent about the Muslim persecution of Christians? Jean-Clément Jeanbart, the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, gave an interview to a French reporter in which he was highly critical of the mainstream media and even of his fellow bishops for ignoring the Muslim persecution of Middle Eastern Christians. “The European media,” he charged, “have not ceased to suppress the daily news of those who are suffering in Syria and they have even justified what is happening in our country by using information without taking the trouble to verify it.” And as for his brother bishops in France, “the conference of French bishops should have trusted us, it would have been better informed. Why are your bishops silent on a threat that is yours today as well? Because the bishops are like you, raised in political correctness. But Jesus was never politically correct, he was politically just!”
Archbishop Jeanbart was not the first to say this. “Why, we ask the western world, why not raise one’s voice over so much ferocity and injustice?” asked Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI). Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan himself has in the past appealed to the West “not to forget the Christians in the Middle East.” The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III has also said: “I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.”
But the Patriarch should have understood, since he is a major part of the problem. After all, he recently said: “No one defends Islam like Arab Christians.” It is to defend Islam that Western clerics do not raise their voice against such acts of brutality. It is to pursue a fruitless and chimerical “dialogue” that bishops in the U.S. and Europe keep silent about Muslim persecution of Christians, and enforce that silence upon others. Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, said it on February 8, 2013 as he was suppressing a planned talk at a Catholic conference on that persecution: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.”
Remember that Mohamed Atta, about the plane he had hijacked on September 11, 2001, told passengers over the intercom: “Stay quiet and you’ll be OK.” The Catholic Church appears to have adopted that statement as its policy regarding Muslim persecution of Christians. When will Pope Francis canonize Atta?
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“‘They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian,’” Associated Press, December 23, 2016:
The Nativity scene and Christmas tree are in place on the corner of the street. Some of the children proudly wear red Santa Claus hats or show off new toys, mostly plastic guns for small boys. Windows and balconies are festooned with colorful balloons.
It is unmistakably Christmas on Friday at the Ankawa camp, home to thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been displaced since the Islamic State group seized their towns and villages in the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq in 2014.
But the holiday spirit is tinged with a mix of homesickness and despair. They still can’t go home even though their towns and villages have been wrested back from the militants by Iraqi forces. The towns are too devastated, with no water or electricity. The Christians are also haunted by memories of their flight under cover of darkness to escape the IS onslaught.
“I just want to go home,” said a tearful 80-year-old Victoria Behman Akouma. She was among a handful who briefly stayed behind after IS seized her town of Karamlis in August 2014. “They asked me to convert to Islam, but I told them I will die a Christian and that they can kill me if they want to,” she said
After 11 days under IS rule, the militants escorted her to the border of the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
The Christians of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, were once members of an ancient but still vibrant Christian community in Iraq. They enjoyed protection and nearly equal rights with Iraq’s Muslim majority under Saddam Hussein, but their numbers rapidly dwindled after the US-led invasion of Iraq toppled the regime of the late dictator in 2003, ushering in the rise of religious militancy with the al Qaeda terror network taking the lead.
The Sunni militants frequently attacked Christians and churches, terrorizing the community and forcing many to flee, some to the West, some to the Kurdish region where tolerance for religious minorities is much greater than in the rest of Iraq. Of the estimated 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq on the eve of the US-led invasion, about 500,000 are left.
The Islamic State group’s onslaught across northern Iraq in 2014 devastated the unique communities in Christian-majority town like Karamlis, Bartella and Qaraqosh — all in the Nineveh plains.
The Iraqi offensive launched in October to retake Mosul has recaptured most Christian areas. But so far, the Christians have only gone back for visits, to see homes or attend services in churches that were not as badly damaged and deemed safe. Returning home for good appears a distant prospect….