The appalling murder of dozens of Christians at Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral by Al Qaeda on October 31, gives us another opportunity to look into the minds of these butchers.
Al Qaeda released a statement on the Internet claiming the attack.
“Upon guidance issued by the Ministry of War in the Islamic State of Iraq in support for our downtrodden Muslim sisters that are held captive in the Muslim land of Egypt and after accurate planning and selection, an angry group of righteous jihadists attacked a filthy den of polytheism,” according to the statement, which was obtained by The Long War Journal. “This den has been frequently used by the Christians of Iraq to fight Islam and support those who are fighting it. With the grace of God, the group was able to hold captive all those in the den and take over all its entrances.”
Based on the statement, it appears that al Qaeda in Iraq had hoped to hold the Christians in Baghdad hostage for at least two days, as a deadline for “the release” of Egyptian women supposedly being held in Coptic churches in Egypt was issued.
“The mujahidin in the Islamic State of Iraq give Egypt’s Christian and belligerent Church as well as its chief of infidelity a 48-hour ultimatum to disclose the status of our sisters in religion, who are held captive in Egypt’s monasteries of infidelity and churches of polytheism,” al Qaeda demanded. “The mujahidin further demand the release of all of them together with an announcement of the release via a media outlet that the mujahidin can access within the deadline.”
Al Qaeda said that if the demands were not met, “the lions of monotheism [al Qaeda’s fighters], who wore their explosive belts, will not hesitate to kill the militant Iraqi Christian captives.”
Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.
“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.
The jihadists want us dead because we are Christians. They have absolutely no compunction about slaying Muslims who oppose them, and in their eyes Christians are fit only to be killed or to be slaves. The alleged reasons given by Al Qaeda for the attack on the Cathedral are completely delusional and demonstrate yet again that to them the murder of Christians is, in itself, a positive good.
Father Raymond J. De Souza understands what we are up against. His words may sound strident and strange to contemporary Catholics; to most of our ancestors in the faith who confronted militant Islam for over a thousand years, they would have seemed completely accurate:
His Wrath Upon Their Heads
May we now speak of the Muslims who want to kill us?
Isn’t that way out of line? Surely Islam is a religion of peace, from which we have a lot to learn?
Let’s then dispense with the disclaimers: Christians and Muslims have often lived together in peace. Only a minority of Muslims are homicidal fanatics. Terrorism is a corruption of Islam. Fine.
But let us speak frankly of those Islamic jihadists who wish to kill Christians because they are not Muslims. On Oct. 31 in Baghdad, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group stormed into the cathedral of the Syriac Catholic Church, Our Lady of Salvation, during the evening Mass. They immediately killed the priest offering the Holy Mass – three priests in all were murdered. They began shooting and held the congregation hostage while security forces surrounded the church. When the police stormed the church, the jihadists began killing those inside; some of them set off suicide bombs on their belts. Dozens of Catholics were killed.
The blood of Abel, the first innocent to be killed, cried out to heaven. The blood of these latest Iraqi martyrs screams out to heaven and Earth. Does the world want to listen?
“Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called ‘free’ world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan after these latest killings.
“There are a few churches and Christian institutions left in Baghdad, not so great a number that it is not unreasonable for them to be protected, security-wise,” he continued, noting that the security being provided by the government is “far less than what we have hoped for and requested.”
By now the killing of Christians by jihadists has become a regular feature of the landscape in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Yet a massacre in a church, during the Holy Mass, surely would provoke a thunderous reaction?
“We condemn in the strongest terms those who would conduct such a cowardly, vicious and senseless attack on innocent civilians in a place of worship,” said the boilerplate statement from Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s foreign minister. No mention of who “those” attackers might be. The Rotary Club? Salvation Army?
The American State Department had no statement at all.
In the Church too, there is often a reluctance to support vigourously Christians under attack, and to call things by name.
“As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations,” is how the final statement of the recent Synod of Bishops on the Middle East characterized Christian-Muslim relations. Imbalances? As in the imbalance between the jihadist firing the gun and the Catholic mother being riddled with bullets?
Then there was the statement by Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, which was utterly astonishing. After simply describing the massacre, he boldly pointed the finger of blame:
“The level of incivility in our national dialogue has reached a crescendo,” Farrell wrote. “Catholics in Iraq specifically link the violence against them by Muslim extremists to anti-Muslim demonstrations and threats to burn the Koran in the United States. Our actions have consequences far beyond our control. … I call upon all Catholics to tone down the level of hatred in their comments and conversations.”
The blood is still dripping from the walls of the Baghdad cathedral, and Bishop Farrell finds fault with a nutcase nobody pastor who threatened to burn the Koran, but did not do so after the whole world condemned him. Would that the Islamic radicals in Baghdad had only threatened to kill people at Mass. With all respect to the bishop of Dallas, the problem is not with overheated Catholic rhetoric, but with murderous Muslims. A Catholic bishop ought to know the difference. Indeed, a bishop might consider more muscular rhetoric, perhaps giving voice to the blood of Baghdad that screams out to heaven.
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” So Scripture teaches us, and so it must be for us, leaving vengeance to the Lord, and imploring the grace of reconciliation and mercy. But let us not blanch from raising our voices to the Lord, with righteous anger and hot tears, to visit His vengeance upon those who did this, to bring down His wrath upon their heads, to exact upon them a terrifying price in full measure for their grievous sins.
That’s not the language of hatred; it is the language of the shepherd when the flock is being slaughtered.
Bravo Father! The time of comforting weasel words is passing, and the time of hard truths is upon us.