In thinking about the massacres in Nigeria, my train of thought ran like this:
- How can anyone bear to be associated with this? I was thinking about the whole Muslim world. You want to be part of this? No.
- Of course not.
One of the rare pleasures of being me is that thus far every faithful Muslim I’ve gotten to know has been a gentle, God-loving person. The kind of person who would have nothing to do, ever, with the atrocities of their coreligionists.
We on the outside of the Muslim world look over at the slaughter in Nigeria and watch for denunciations. We want to see that Muslim clerics and politicians outright condemn the unspeakable evil that is destroying whole nations.
What would I think, then, of some leader who made a display of denouncing the slaughter of innocents, but then turned around and played nice with the killers?
January 22nd is a day of prayer and penance for the end of abortion in the US. That’s an instruction, not a suggestion. We are invited, in addition, to join the US Bishops in nine days of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage beginning today, January 17th, and culminating on the 22nd. If you go out to the March for Life, which you should do if you can, you will see the bishops out there. They are for serious about this.
Abortion is the exact same thing as the killing going on in Nigeria. It is the intentional killing of an innocent person who happens to be in the way. It is the exact same thing.
So how would we feel, then, if a peaceful, God-loving Muslim stood up in massive protest against the terrorists, rightly denouncing the murders as being utterly incompatible with any notion of morality, and on the following day made no objection when those same terrorists walked into the mosque and claimed a seat with their fellows?
We on the outside would suspect the denunciations were not so very genuine.
Would we think it was right to accept honors and sit down to banquets with political leaders who approved, endorsed, and funded the killing of their innocent countryman?
What would we think if, say, a national leader in Nigeria, a Muslim, was repeatedly on record as explaining how he didn’t approve of the slaughter himself, but he thought national law ought to allow each militant his personal choice?
What if Muslim legislators were actively voting for the protection of the “right” of militants to murder whom they would?
And then, what if there existed in Islam a teaching office, a clearly-defined hierarchy, whose very laws called for removing the privileges of the faithful from those who endorsed the slaughter?
What if the clerics who held that office were to explain that though they could issue press releases and even turn out at various protests, it might turn people away from the faith if they were seen to act in a manner that was construed as barring the terrorists from the Mosque until they repented?
Because Muslims of good will really feel that it’s just not very pastoral for an Imam to tell Boko Haram they aren’t welcome in the Mosque? Because someone contemplating a conversion to Islam would be put off by such unkindness to the terrorists and their supporters?
Abortion is the exact same thing as the slaughter in Nigeria. It is the exact same thing.
Whatever response it is that we Catholics would hope for from the Muslim world, that’s what we need to be carrying out ourselves, here on our own killing grounds.
I don’t think nine days is gonna cut it.
Artwork:By Maestro de Sigena, Christ Before Herod [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Yes, Our Lord dined with tax collectors and other sinners. But he didn’t eat with Herod.