Dhimmi Pope refuses to call for arms to defend persecuted Christians

Dhimmi Pope refuses to call for arms to defend persecuted Christians August 13, 2014

Here’s his gutless public statement:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous man is scarcely saved,
where will the impious and sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. (1 Pe 4:12–19).

Rome has been abundantly clear that ISIS and the various other jihadists are committing horrific evil. But Rome has been less bellicose than a lot of American Catholics would like. Yesterday, when catholic.org briefly ran a reckless headline reporting that Francis was calling for an armed response to ISIS, the usual suspects leapt on it with alacrity.  When it turned out that headline was garbage, the same suspects responded with complaints about our wimpy pope not being man enough to demand that somebody (though certainly not the usual suspects themselves) get sent off to war.  Why can’t we have one of those badass pre-Vatican II popes instead of these wussy peaceniks? was the cry.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think ISIS is going to require an armed response of some kind.  What kind, I don’t know.  But I’m extremely skeptical that the same subculture who have shown such massive lack of discernment in the past over everything from the Iraq War, to their hatred of Francis, to love for Cliven “Let me tell you about the Negro and use women and children as human shields” Bundy to screaming at children at the border to defenses of nuclear warfare and torture to a hundred other subjects in which they are completely and utterly wrong are the people I should trust to get it right when they start calling yet again for the US to plunge into yet another war as the first, last and only response.  But at the same time, I think our responsibility for the last war and its catastrophic consequences (responsibility apologists for the last war are absolutely refusing to accept) means that we owe the victims of our foolish debacle defense, succor, evacuation, and asylum (the last part being something I doubt these warmongers want to give Iraqis any more than they want to give it to terrified Honduran kids.  Warmongers tend to be good at being brave about other people sacrificing, not so much about themselves sacrificing.)  But the reality is that evacuation and asylum are doable.  The Kurds alone were able to get 20,000 people out a few days ago.  And France–France!–has done more to give these people asylum than we have.  The bellicose laptop bombardiers who say to our troops “Let’s you and them fight” should be the first to welcome the thousands of victims their last war created, if they are really all that big about sacrifice for the greater good.

So I get that part of the response to ISIS is going to have to involve arms.  What I am not convinced of is that it should primarily be American arms (or at any rate, American troops) since I think the Muslim world (which does after all constitute the bulk of the victims of ISIS) has to repudiate and defeat these creeps.  What I am absolutely *convinced* would be the exact worst thing in the world would be, as some of the  Catholic laptop bombardiers insist) for the pope to call a “crusade”.  All this stuff about Francis being a feminized moral pansy etc. blah blah is clueless for a couple of reasons.

First:  If the Pope were to call a “crusade”against Islam it would absolutely guarantee more of the slaughter of innocent Christians all around the world.  It would also be absolutely fruitless. It would unite the Muslim world against us instead of turning it against the nutjobs they fear with good reason. And it would be wrong, and stupid.  And false to the faith.  The mission of the Catholic Church is not to make war on a billion people, the vast majority of whom have done nothing wrong.  It is a function of American Catholic cowardice, not of moral clarity, to even propose such an idea.

Here’s more reality: as we see from the first pope’s response to brutal persecution (a persecution in which he himself would be killed), one option the faith proposes to us that most Americans disregard with utter contempt is, well, martyrdom.  And, (which is my point) he does so as his *first* option while we commonly express an eager willingness to commit the filthiest sins to avoid it.

“Oh sure, easy for you to say!  But when these monsters take over the world in the coming Jihad you’ll be singing a different tune!  We have to stop these bastards by any means necessary. The pope should have called a Crusade! This is the same sort of pantywaist stuff you spout when you mewl and puke about Hiroshima.  Thank God that *real* men do what is necessary to win!”

Several things:

To begin with, it’s not easy for me to say.  I don’t want to die and I don’t want other people to die either.  Indeed, I still hold to just war teaching and don’t have any particular objection to the use of force to stop ISIS, as I have just said.  But I’m also aware that Just War teaching is specifically designed to make it really hard to go to war due to the Church’s preferential option for life.  Moreover, just war is not at all a slam dunk here, particularly as we consider the last criterion of just war: that the evils resulting from it not outweigh the evils it inflicts.  That said, I favor helping the people of Iraq fight off these thugs.  I even favor helping Assad fight them in order to destroy this cancer.  But it is a course fraught with peril and we should not make it our main focus.  Our main focus should be on humanitarian aid to the victims we have done so much to create.  It is Muslims who must bear the main brunt of dealing with the psychos in their ranks, not us.

Second: When you immediately move from what is obviously a regional conflict to crazy visions of ISIS taking over the world with a globe-spanning caliphate and breaking into your house to kill you, you a) are taking flight from reality and b) place yourself mentally in exactly the place the first pope actually, physically was in during the first century.  And when you call for war crimes like incinerating children in their beds to save your skin (as you called for the war crime of torture during the last war and as you defend every year on Hiroshima Day), you demonstrate as clearly as can be the vast gulf that lies between you and Peter’s response.

Here’s the deal: While the Church’s developed teaching allows a place for self-defense, it by no means enjoins it on us as a duty and it leaves wide open the possibility of pacifism and martyrdom without any of the bellicose opprobrium the laptop bombardiers reserve for “moral cowards” like John Paul II or Francis when they fail to call for taking up arms.  There’s a reason for that: Peter himself does not seem to have gotten the absolutely ridiculous memo from Christian self-defense dogmatists that when Jesus snorted “Enough!” at his dull-witted display of two swords on Holy Thursday, our Lord was secretly laying the groundwork for the divinely inspired second amendment and suggesting, “If somebody threatens you, stand your ground, cock your Glock, and blow his head off because nothing is more sacred than self-defense.”

Not that Peter did not have the normal human instinct for self defense.  But after his brief altercation with  Malchus’ ear, he seems to have really internalized this saying of Christ’s:

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt 26:52–54).

Also this one:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28–29).

And so the guy who once thought it his mission to kill people to defend Christ seems to have, as the passage from 1 Peter indicates, decided it was better, not only for him, but for his flock, to die without sinning than to sin without dying.  It appears to have been far more important to Peter that Christians not be murderers, or thieves, or wrongdoers, or mischief-makers, than that they not light Nero’s gardens as human torches, or be ripped apart in the arena for the delectation of the mob.  Consequently, when he writes to a Church facing its first really vicious imperial persecution, he says not one single word about fighting back, about how any kind of real man would protect his family, about how the pagan bastards deserve to have their heads cut off.  Instead, he counsels his flock to suffer well and specifically tells them not to so much as back talk on their way to gruesome deaths that would make any modern, including me, curl up in a fetal position and blubber like a child to avoid:

For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. (1 Pe 2:20–24).

If he were saying that stuff today, he would shrieked at as a dhimmi wuss by the laptop bombardiers.

So am I saying that the Chaldean Church should be left to die? Of course not. I’m saying that *we* have to be willing to die, and not pretend that shouting at our  troops “Let’s you and them fight” while we ourselves do nothing to help is anything other than lazy cowardice.  Part of saving the Chaldean Church will involve arms (and already has with the airstrikes Obama ordered to help out the Kurds).  But a lot more is going to involve humanitarian aid, works of mercy, welcoming the stranger, and care for the least of these.  And it will also involve–has already involved–martyrdom.  Carping at the pope (who has no divisions) for not spouting bellicose rhetoric like a laptop bombardier, while turning a blind eye to how the first pope responded to martyrdom, is an act of worship to Mars, not Christ. The paradox of our faith is that it calls us to work as hard as we can within justice to keep martyrs from being made, while it also celebrates and commends veneration for those who, like Peter, accept the martyr’s crown. Peter discovered what an awful lot of Americans have yet to learn: that his false bravado in the Garden of Gethsemane was nothing compared to the true courage of the one who did not defend himself at all. All the chatter, so common in American culture, about “nuking them back to the Stone Age” and doing “whatever it takes” from Christians who have no problem at all with murdering thousands of civilians in order to win is light years away from Peter, who, following his Master, became man enough to die rather than commit a sin to save himself.

So God bless those who are helping the refugees in Iraq, both with arms and with humanitarian aid.  And God bless our Holy Father as he continues to call for aid and to bless holy Christian martyrs.  And God bless us with the wisdom to do all within justice–including just war where necessary and our debt of justice to give asylum to refugees–that we who are so swift to call for death to Muslims at the hands of others and so slow to the works of mercy, may learn to die to ourselves and live for Christ in the least of these.

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  • Well said.

  • HornOrSilk

    More or less my view on the situation: ISIS has to be dealt with, but it must be done with just war principles, engaging the world as servants paying penance for our previous invasion of Iraq instead of following the same hubris which got us there (and I believe, that is Mark’s view as well).

    This means: we go in on the defensive for those being attacked, trying to find a way to save them in as peaceful means as possible (as refugees, but also, as people trying to stay in their homeland, there is no reason why they should have to flee if they want to stay). If force has to be used, it must be done following the rules of proportionality (not the cries of vengeance and bloodlust), with intention also to do good to our enemies, to be better than them so maybe to convert their hearts (as is the Christian way, pointed out by Augustine and others). If we go in, it must be as self-sacrificial servants, with humility, with remorse, knowing that we are at fault, and have directly and indirectly been behind all the chaos that is there now. We must know our guilt, even if it wounds our sinful pride.

    • Mike Blackadder

      Just curious HornOrSilk; but what is your suggested approach to saving these oppressed people while fulfilling the intention of ‘[doing] good to our enemies, to be better than them so maybe to convert their hearts’? I just wonder if your approach if held accountable to achieve either goal would be substantially different from the position already adopted by the American military.

      And a comment normally directed towards conservatives: Are you willing to volunteer to fight this just war or is it OK to insist on regular American soldiers playing martyr to satisfy your just war?

      • HornOrSilk

        There are many aspects to your question. First, your implication I’m not “conservative,” and so probably suggesting I’m “liberal.” Wrong.

        Second, what should we do to change hearts? We should treat them with charity. We should not dehumanize them. We should recognize the human dignity they possess, even if they do not recognize it in others. We must always follow the principle of the Gospel, and what I said is exactly the message Augustine gave.

        As for my “willing to volunteer” — your argument is the same illogical argument that many pro-death give in support for death (“are you willing to personally support the child born?”). I’m not in the military, and I am not suited to being a soldier. However, if I were a soldier, and if I were called to act in a just war, then it is my duty and obligation from the status I am given. It’s an office with qualifications and expectations. However, when the war is unjust, someone signing for a legitimate duty as a soldier is not obligated to follow through with the injustice. So when talking about unjust wars, willing to send and sacrifice our children for an evil act is indeed grave evil. When, on the other hand, some legitimate defense is necessary, the situation changes. The fact that I am not a soldier does not mean I can’t distinguish the two.

        • Mike Blackadder

          I think that’s a good answer HornOrSilk especially concerning the question of ‘volunteering to fight’. Do you think that our military really conducts itself as bloodthirsty vengeance seekers? Do we not conduct ourselves according to rules of proportionality, minimizing civilian and enemy casualties despite unconventional and particularly difficult circumstances of an enemy who resides among civilians and does not engage wearing a soldiers uniform and where their tendency is to target civilians?

          • HornOrSilk

            Obviously, this kind of discussion can go on and on, especially in comments boxes, where the kind of discourse is more generalized. So I will give some general answers, and then leave it at that ; if you want a final comment, and leave open questions for anyone reading to ponder, go ahead. I’m just stating this because I know what I say will be general, and can be questioned due to that status.

            However, here goes:
            1) First, before your other questions, the question has to be just cause. For the Iraq war, there was none. Even if they held WMDS, they were not an immediate threat, the conflict was not a last resort, all other avenues had not been tried.
            2) Nonetheless, in regards to Iraq, I believe it was a war of vengeance against Saddam. It was being planned before 9-11 and so that war, by its very nature, is a war of bloodthirsty vengeance seeks. In regards to Afghanistan, I think a “just cause” could be established in theory (and disputed, so it would not be a clear cut just cause but at least a case could be made), but I do think the people who went in there went in seeking vengeance. That vengeance itself came from the anger of 9-11, and it spewed forth in the Iraq war. The conduct of the military with civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq goes against the just war principles. And we can see the bloodlust in the soldiers and how they talk about this (I have).
            3) This bloodlust also is shown in how we torture POWS.
            4) We have not acted proportionally, especially with the power and tactical ability we have. Again, it’s all out chaos in Iraq, with our people a part of the whole mess. Civilians have long been a target and a joke to American soldiers in Iraq.

            N.B. I am not saying all soldiers are bloodthirsty and act that way. Many do not. HOWEVER, the way they are trained is to not think about the moral issues, but to just go in, dehumanizing the enemy and anyone in that country, hence the civilian damages.

            So in answer, no we have not acted proportional, nor has there been any attempt by the military command to do so. Iraq war by its nature was bloodlust, and Afghanistan was fought out of anger alone, leading to the bloodlust.

            • Mike Blackadder

              Thanks for your candid response. I will just briefly (or not so briefly I guess) respond (not trying to engage in a prolonged discussion or ask further questions).

              First, where I agree with you: yes, the standard of ‘just cause’ is the only legitimate grounds for going to war. I also agree that probably in the case both of Afghanistan and Iraq that there is an element of vengeance and emotion that may very well cloud our judgment, at least on an individual level.

              Concerning Iraq, the threat of unaccounted for WMDs was considered an imminent threat in the context of terrorist organizations with world-wide ties. The defiance of Saddam to international oversight, of refusing to step down from power and defying conditions of a cease-fire with the US led to the outcome that either the will to compel compliance to justice were idle or must be carried out. Saddam obviously counted on them being idle threats and he was wrong. If there is any basis for maintaining order and justice on the international scale as is preached by our own magisterium then policing must be a legitimate function of such governance.

              I don’t know of grounds to believe that there was systematic acts of vengeance against civilians on the part of the American military. Certainly policy of the war effort heavily came down on the side of protecting civilians at greater cost to safety of American soldiers. I myself have read many accounts of how civilians were killed indiscriminately with roadside bombs and terrorist attacks as higher death tolls bolstered the cause of those seeking American withdrawal and destabilization (see Long War Journal). This along with tribal violence seems the more obvious source of civilian casualties. Certainly it must be acknowledged that those areas well secured by American forces were much better characterized as a source of relief for the civilian population.

              Advanced interrogation of prisoners is obviously a disputed definition. I will dispute the assertion that such interrogation techniques were in answer to bloodlust, when the much simpler and feasible explanation was that it was to acquire information to spare American and civilian lives and aid the war effort. There are several high profile examples where vital information was obtained, including information that led to finding Osama Bin Laden. When American soldiers acted inappropriately at Guantanamo, (ie. humiliating prisoners and taking pictures) these soldiers were disciplined for such behavior which is the right way of things.

              Obviously we have a different perspective on the actual conduct of America’s military. It’s very hard to argue about the mindset of individual soldiers. It is probably true that we could do a better job of enforcing discipline of the American soldier all the way through the chain of command. It is also probably true that policy could be rejigged to better protect American soldiers in the context of a war against unidentified terrorists engaging among civilian populations. In all cases it’s a matter of bringing greater resources to support such war efforts, not fewer.

              I feel that where the greatest burden lies in justifying ‘just war’ in our situation is on grounds of the feasibility of success. Let’s acknowledge that we cannot win a war that we are unwilling to fight or where we will change our mind 1 or 2 years later (depending on polls). And let’s acknowledge the damage caused to others when we renege on commitment which is what we have constantly threatened while engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though there was substantial support even for Iraq at the time of engagement I think Bush would have been wise to acknowledge that there was enough opposition to Iraq and enough uncertainty in other areas to simply pass on that venture. The fact that he could not form a more prolific coalition should have been reason enough to stay his hand.

  • JayHershberger

    This needed to be said, and in the just the way you said it. Thanks for doing so! Get ready for the laptop bombardiers to head this way…

  • ivan_the_mad

    Wise counsel, Mark.

    Today, the Vatican released Francis’ letter to Ban Ki-Moon regarding international action.

    I do think that this country has a moral responsibility in this crisis to the affected peoples. This is what comes of disordered goods, placing money above people. As the archbishop of Baghdad said, “peace is more precious than petroleum.”

  • Andy

    Well written Mark. I struggle with the concept of “war” in this case, because war is between sovereign states – ISIS as far as I know is not a sovereign state, so how do we have a war? We do have a moral responsibility to attend to and try to defuse this situation – but will arms do it? I am not sure it will – we are it seems to me dealing with animosities between people that have been around thousands of years. If we blithely go back to Iraq without understanding this, as we ignored when we first went there previously, we are doomed to failure. We need to recognize that Iraq is now a broken state – broken in terms of infrastructure, in terms of identity and in terms of political processes as we see them. More weapons, will not rebuild a broken state. But as you said and I sadly agree – some sort of armed intervention will be needed – I pray that it is short lived and done with restraint.

    • HornOrSilk

      I think we can define it as war, when we realize our notion of “state” is very modern. Ancient civilizations which went to war with barbarians, or barbarians with ancient civilizations, had real wars, often with barbaric groups having no “state” of their own. Or to bring it to the American continent, the Indian Wars were wars, but the Native American tribes were not distinct “states” in the modern sense.

      But it’s a minor point. Whether we want to call it a war or something else, just war theory applies. And I know you and I agree that the foundation of any response must not be a reliance on weapons.

      • Andy

        I do agree with you wholeheartedly – my question I guess was more philosophical in nature and attempting to square all parts of just war with what I fear we are about to embark on. Prayers for peace are needed.

  • Joseph

    Bravo!!! I agree totally… so here is your internet pat on the back. Now… back to our comfy chairs and Cheetos (because are any of us really in a position to bravely comment on this serious problem on the internet whilst sucking down a Slurpee?).
    I feel the same way you do, but I’m rather dissolusioned as to whether it really counts for anything anymore. Perhaps someone will read this article and be influenced by it… but my cynical side screams loudly in my ear ‘I doubt it!’. Here’s to hope, however!

  • kirthigdon

    I think there is about zero chance that the US ruling establishment will do this in any moral way. The rescue of refugees is simply a pretext for intervention and even the pretext chosen was the tiny Yazedi community. Obama could not even pretend to be intentionally doing anything for Christians. And he has already committed the US to further objectives. He pledged no boots on the ground, but hundreds (soon to be thousands) of US troops already have boots on the ground in Iraq. He has promised to prevent the IS from taking Irbil or Baghad. Most significantly he has said the US will prevent the IS from changing international boundries and establishing a Caliphate.

    The three big beefs that Mideast Sunni (mostly Arab) Moslems have against the west are the endorsement by Britain (later by the rest of the west) of the Zionist enterprise, the break-up of the Arab world into relatively weak states to make exploitation of their oil resources easier, and the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate. (The last, done by the Turkish secular modernizer Kemal Attaturk, was not directly the fault of the west.) All of these date to WWI and its immediate aftermath.

    The endorsement of Zionism has morphed into a blank check for Israel as a Jewish state to do whatever it pleases with its neighbors and non-Jewish subjects. And Israel, with dominant military forces and a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the area, hardly needs the blank check; it needs some restraint. The other two issues are really not of concern to the US; for most of this country’s existence, the Caliphate existed (and mistreated Christians) and the Arab Moslems of the Middle East were united under Ottoman rule. If our rulers are pledging the use of the US military to maintain forever the post-WWI status quo, they are committing us to generational and perhaps centuries-long war against tens if not hundreds of millions of Arab Sunni Moslems. I don’t see how this project, which is not a defense of the US but a defense of a status quo on the other side of the world, can possibly qualify as a just war that Christians should support.

    Kirt Higdon

    • AquinasMan

      I wouldn’t worry about centuries-long warfare with nuclear proliferation in the region. Sooner or later, someone, somewhere will do something incredibly stupid and there won’t be anything with a status quo left to defend.

  • Joseph

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that the Muslim 75% ‘peaceful/moderate’ majority need to prove that they are more than just talking heads of constant politically correct requests that we differentiate between them and the other 300 million monsters who claim adherence to their same religion while doing absolutely nothing themselves to stop this madness themselves. The claim that this is only a small minority of wackos running around in Muslim countries whacking innocent heads off starts to sound a bit disingenuous when they admit to full knowledge of it happening in their own backyard while standing by and allowing it to happen… and they wonder why the name of Islam is frowned upon in the West and why people fear them when they see a woman walking down the street in full garb bearing only her eyes while walking 10 feet behind her husband… because their relative inaction is making is that much more difficult to believe that there is a distinction. It’s the scourge of that 25% that gives them a bad rap and they seem to be quite happy only trying to *explain* that to everyone rather than trying to prove that Islam is, in fact, a religion of peace for more than just Muslims.
    When the Church was running rife with simoniac, molesting, war-mongering, nationalist clergy, the uproar that called for reform was heard in time and eventually led to it and the offenders were steadily removed. The time it took is irrelevant in the sense that there was, and is, *action*.

    • jroberts548

      The Kurds – i.e., the people who are actually fighting ISIS – are mostly Sunni Muslims. It’s just as fair to blame all Muslims for ISIS’ evil as it is to credit all Muslims for Kurdistan’s protection of Christians and Yazidis.

      • Joseph

        I realise that. But the Kurds by themselves are actually a smaller minority than the total militant Muslims they are facing. Plus, the Kurds aren’t the ones crying out to the world to differentiate between the way they follow Islam and the way the rabid beasts they are fighting follow Islam. They are *acting*, whatever their motives are. It’s the Muslims all around them and around the world who continually beg us to differentiate who do nothing to purge these animals. My point still stands. It’s the Muslims who need to put their money where their mouths are and fight these beasts who claim to be their brethren. They can’t keep telling the world to keep their noses out of their problems, wag their heads and shake their fingers at everyone for fearing Muslims while doing nothing themselves. Obviously, if Islam is the religion the 75% say it is, this sort of humanitarian crisis known to the world that’s happening in their backyard would prompt them to take immediate action. The fact that they aren’t could easily be interpreted as their agreement with it. Has the image of the German people been completely rehabilitated after WWII? You’re a liar or a fool if you say it has… and the German people *didn’t entirely know* what was happening. The Muslims can’t claim that ignorance. Don’t be so quick to run to their defense for allowing this to happen in their own backyard. As for the Kurds, they are also trying to protect themselves and don’t want to lose their chance at a separate Kurdistan. It’s not all humanitarian on their part.

        • jroberts548

          I’ve been to Germany several times. I know a lot of Germans. Their image has been rehabilitated, at least to me and to anyone who knows what they’re talking about.

          I’m not engaging with your other argument. Yes, if you don’t include the Muslim opposition to ISIS, there is a lack of Muslim opposition to ISIS. That is trivially, tautologically true. So what?

          • Joseph

            Ummm… I live in Europe, I haven’t just *been there*. Are you serious? You ask the Germans if their image has been rehabilitated? Have you asked the average non-German European? Ask the French, the average English, the average Irish. Their prejudice is misplaced for sure and I definitely *do not* agree with it, but it in no way has dissipated. How many German jokes do you know or have you heard where ‘German’ is synonymous with ‘Nazi’? Are you kidding? You’re giving a tourist’s perspective? Clearly, you don’t know what you’re talking about which means you’re definitely not a liar.

            • jroberts548

              “Their prejudice is misplaced…”

              You agree that they don’t know what they’re talking about. There are people for whom Germany’s reputation has been rehabilitated, and there are people with a misplaced prejudice against Germans.

              However, as with the modern Germans, there’s literally nothing Muslims can do – up to and including going to war against ISIS – that would prevent misplaced prejudice.

              • Joseph

                *I* believe it’s misplaced, but my family also didn’t suffer to the Germans like theirs did so it was much easier for me to objectively come to that understanding. What you’ve done is prove my point, however. The German name has not been rehabilitated for many Europeans (and the anger of the past has only resurfaced with the recent EU recession… watch any political satire comedy skit on television in Europe), and thus you can’t claim it’s been *rehabilitated*.
                That *and* the German people were largely ignorant of the autrocities of the Nazis! The Muslims in the Middle East and around the world don’t have that luxury to fall back on. EVERYONE KNOWS, including them. And it’s happening in their own home in their full view. These executions are public, not private. If the Germans are, to this day judged harshly for something the were mostly ignorant of, how will history judge the Muslims when they have full disclosure?

        • kenofken

          Muslim countries and people have their share of blame, but you’re firing a whole quarry of rocks out of a trebuchet in your glass living room. We’ve done everything in our power for 50 years to foster radicalism and stifle the rise of moderate forces throughout the Middle East and South Asia. WE made Iran what it is today. We played a huge role in creating and arming the Taliban when it served our short term goals. We’ve propped up vicious and corrupt governments which created moribund economies leaving millions of young, and often educated men, without hope. In what deluded fantasy scenario are we supposed to imagine that Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia was going to produce a class of free-thinking, forward looking Muslims? WE made Iraq what it is today. We are 100% responsible for creating the conditions for massive sectarian slaughter and ultraviolent racial movements running wild. Most people there don’t know where the hell their next meal is coming from or if they’ll come home to their families on any given day, or come home to find their family beheaded in the living room. You’re going to hold the average Muslim in these countries responsible for failing to fix a problem we spent a trillion dollars creating and can’t even begin to fix with the most advanced military in the world?

          • Joseph

            I never said that we didn’t create this problem. It actually goes further than what you’ve even stated. The US armed, funded, and supported these extremist groups (think Syria and Egypt). These groups aren’t self-made. They’re driving Hummers and carrying M4’s. We fostered this problem in more ways that you were even willing to admit. But you can read my response above (to Mike Blackadder).

    • Mike Blackadder

      It seems to me that American Christians are not willing to oppose ISIS militarily if it means there is a substantial sacrifice for us. We have the advantage of military dominance, and relative security and safety in our homeland.

      How can we expect moderate Muslims to stick their neck out and oppose ISIS when the civilized world have passed on helping with terrorist forces in Iraq, when they will surely take many more casualties than us and when if they fail or if political opinion changes they will face direct retribution from the radicals living among them?

      • Joseph

        Well it certainly hasn’t helped that the US government has armed, funded, and supported (the revolutions in Syria and Egypt) groups like ISIS and Al Queso. But this is a local problem *within* those nations. There is no credible link to these issues and the current governments in power, therefore it is an issue that they should be handling, first of all. Imagine if the KKK sprung up today and decided that they wanted to make Mississippi a KKK only zone and started slaughtering blacks and Catholics like they did in their prime? Do you think the US government or the American people would wait for a foreign fighting force to enter their nation to save the blacks and Catholics? And do you think there would be a relative silence from all Americans on the issue? Didn’t think so.
        Secondly, this is a Muslim religious issue. Not only are the events taking place within their countries, they refuse to speak out about them and do anything about them while at the same time constantly appealing to the world to accept them as a religion of peace and that this very large minority of extremists who claim to be aherents of their religion don’t represent them at all. Yet the silence and the inaction say so, so much.

        • Mike Blackadder

          Joseph, if the Iraqi people are starving are you saying that a plentiful nation like Canada or the US should not feel obligated to provide humanitarian aid to ease their suffering? Why do you apply a different standard when they are under attack from insurgent forces? Joseph, you realize that America stayed out of WWII while Hitler was overrunning Europe because as many Republicans argued at the time: it’s Europe’s problem and nothing to do with us.

          When the US government has problems they deal with them according to their ability. I don’t think that we would have a problem with a petty KKK uprising. It would be nice to think though that if we did require aid for whatever reason that it would come from our allies, and maybe even from those who have not historically been allies but possess the resources to help.

          Once again, consider that there is maybe a reason that the majority Muslim doesn’t speak out, and it’s the same reason that I provided in my original response, because for them it isn’t merely anonymous internet blogging, but painting a target on your back and that of your family. They don’t live in countries where free expression is respected. The likes of ISIS don’t use words to settle their disputes. And it is not only Christians who are being crucified in the ME.

          It is also possible that another reason for Muslims not speaking out against radicalism is that on some level they silently approve of their religion spreading into greater influence and in particular defeating all perceived allies of Israel and America. It is therefore unfortunate that even some in the West perpetuate the false notion that America comes to steal Iraq’s oil. They don’t realize the kind of damage caused by this kind of rhetoric.

        • kenofken

          If you wanted to make the analogy accurate, we’d have to assume that the KKK had a large supply of our military’s best artiller, armor and heavy machine guns, and a more motivated and capable fighting force that our government, which was confined almost entirely to the capital. You’d have to further assume that the government was so nasty and utterly useless to most people that even a lunatic insurgency seemed worth a try. I don’t think our local citizen militias would have such an easy time of it, anymore than Iraqis have. They have stood their ground where they could.

          As to your whole “silence of the majority”, that’s an awfully hard argument to engage. What would constitute sufficient repudiation of extremism among Muslims? American Imams and Muslims have been tripping over themselves since 9/11 to denounce extremism, but that never seems to be enough. If they don’t issue a brand new statement condemning every Islamist atrocity around the world, they’re assumed to be complicit. If they do, well, they didn’t say it with quite enough conviction. Do you need more condemnation of extremism by top clergy? Islam doesn’t have a pope, and even if it did..I mean look at Catholicism. The only people who routinely take the Pope’s pronouncements to heart are Mark and Some Nun to be announced at a later date.

          What would be sufficient speaking out by rank and file Muslims? Notarized statements by 50% plus one of all Muslims in the world? Can we take their silence as evidence of complicity? Would you speak out on CNN or Twitter if you were living under the watchful eye of the local Taliban commander or Iranian national security ministry?

          • Joseph

            Jeebus. The internet polictical correctness army id out in force these days. Are you trying to suck up to somebody or look really good in the armchair warrior desk chair? Westboro Baptist Church hasn’t killed anyone… yet. Even so, Americans find what they do repulsive enough to stop them by ‘out-protesting’ them. It stands to reason that *if* these asshats decided to start firing on people, their little operation would be shut down before the authorities arrived to find a lot of people who fell up the stairs.
            Imagine what would happen if they started beheading, crucifying, executing with gunshots in the back of the head, raping people in public whilst joyously filming every minute and chanting ‘Praise be tk Lord Jeebus!’. The end would come soon for them and it wouldn’t take foreign aid. Would you guys stop making excuses for the Muslims who obviously tacitly approve as is displayed by an abominable inaction that would not be witnessed anywhere else in the world. Seriously. Cop on. You aren’t making yourself look good. You’re making yourself look foolish.

  • I fell for that first quote because I thought it was a statement by Pope Francis. The combined result of Francis having the mind of Peter and me not knowing Scripture as well as I should.

  • orual’s kindred

    So am I saying that the Chaldean Church should be left to die? Of course not.

    I am sorry that statement required spelling out, even after entire paragraphs that ought to have made the thought clear already. I think it’s symptomatic of the problems in discussions about these matters.

  • It’s a difficult thing to balance, but whenever someone asks “What would Jesus do?”, reminded them that turning over tables and using whips is a possibility.

    • HornOrSilk

      However, overturning tables, and using whips (which, btw, could have been aimed merely at animals, as some commentaries suggest) is a far cry from guns and bombs. Not saying arms might not need to be used, following just war principles, but this quick assumption of “overturning table” is the same thing as modern war practices is more than a little off.

      • If we refer to ISIS as a “rabid dog” then we think of animals, then we think of whips. Probably best to remember that ISIS members are made in the image and likeness of God like us (it’s a hard teaching).

  • Jack Quirk

    Bravo, Mark! Bravo!

  • Michelle

    I love this! Do you have a link to the full statement from the Holy Father?

    • chezami

      It’s a statement from the first holy Father.

  • KM

    Another fine article. I haven’t seen the combox hate against you as usual, but it’s probably being expressed elsewhere.

  • KM

    To supplement this, Pat Buchanan has a very good piece up at The American Conservative called “What Kind of Conservatives Are the Warhawks?” Echoing what Mark has written above, Buchanan is saying that America needs a Muslim coalition — and possibly even Russia — to help contain or crush ISIS, but unfortunately our foreign policy is stuck in the 1980s. He concludes with this: “Let Middle Easterners take the lead in fighting this newest Middle East war.”

    It’s worth checking out. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/what-kind-of-conservatives-are-the-warhawks/

  • Elmwood

    seems to me the Holy Father is calling on the international community to action in stopping this genocide. I doubt he is ruling out military force entirely. There needs to be security for these people.

  • AquinasMan

    (Apologies in advance for this long-ish response.)

    This one is going to Evernote. A critically important post on two very hard subjects: suffering for one’s faith and the price of unjust warfare.

    The fear of suffering unjustly is a tremendous ball and chain. It excuses us from acts of courage — taking a stand for Christ — inviting ridicule — episodes of heroic mercy — and self-sacrifice. When we can resort to warfare, we no longer need to speak up. We fix things by breaking them even more. We risk nothing because we’ve decided there’s nothing worth risking. Instead of witnessing to the heroism of the martyrs, we witness to the sheer strength of military technology. We inflict temporal justice in an unjust manner. This is the mentality that pervades our thoughts, our culture.

    Contrary to the original post, I have, on more than one occasion, expressed sorrow for my own warmongering back in 2003 and before that. I’m not asking for kudos, I’m pointing out that Mark is correct about the importance of “taking responsibility”. Without looking coldly at my own words and actions, I couldn’t begin to hear the Gospel. It was so much easier to “forget’ about that whole “live by the sword, die by the sword” thingamajig. The Church doesn’t expect the flock to sit idle for a slaughter, but if there’s a way out minus warfare, it must be taken. The Church is not stupid. The Battle of Lepanto was a critical last resort to the onslaught of the Turks. And the Church hasn’t disarmed the Swiss Guard. But She rightly hears the voice of Her Groom, Who tells us it is not our bodies, but our souls that we need to be militant in protecting.

    • chezami

      I’m in the same boat as you. But we worship a forgiving God of second chances. Thanks for your good and honest words and your willingness to think with the Church!

  • Thibaud313

    Very well put !

    I would just like to emphasize (but your post does not contradict this) that I think it is possible to hold the opinion that an armed response is, in the present case, necessary and urgent. For instance, the French Conference of Bishops is calling for a military intervention (it’s other there, for people who read French : http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2014/08/13/97001-20140813FILWWW00074-chretiens-d-irak-l-appel-des-eveques-francais.php).

  • Mike Blackadder

    This is a good post Mark. I agree that it is simply not helpful for the Pope to engage in a call to arms or even to comment with the level of candor in this post regarding the use of force. Whether or not church teaching justifies using force it is a whole other thing when the Pope puts his stamp on it.

    At times this post almost seems to suggest the outcome of martyrdom as an acceptable option (for example as opposed to a military option that might itself involve injustice or sin). That might not be your intention. Certainly you have stated many times here that you believe that force probably should (or could) be used to help evacuate the victims here. It’s just that it almost seems that you are suggesting we ought to err on the side of martyrdom if we are unsure if we are justified in fighting back to avoid martyrdom.

    As you say, the case for Just War is not a slam dunk even in this case. We can say that scripture tells us it is better to die a martyr than to live as a sinner. At the same time, I think that’s an argument best directed at the victims of this violence, but that there are additional difficulties looking at the moral dilemma from our perspective. Just as it is easy for Christian warmongers to cry for war when it is not THEM who are personally sacrificed for the cause, it is easy for anti-military Christian fanatics to oppose military intervention when it is not THEM being martyred. What is maybe omitted in your analysis is that it is ALSO a grave sin against your brother to allow him to perish when it is in your power and your responsibility to others to help. The fact that we are capable of helping means it is problematic from the point of view of morality if we do not.

    This is a nuance that is captured in Just War Theory which differentiates OUR situation from that of St. Peter and the early church. The early church was overwhelmed by more powerful forces of violence, and lacked the influence to prevent this form of injustice against other people. St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas addressed a scenario closer to our own of [mainstream Christianity] where we have adopted the responsibility of governance of people. The modern influential Christian does not simply default to accepting the martyrdom of others when there is some uncertainty concerning Just War. No, we trade-off between committing violence against our brothers contrary to Just War OR if we are wrong committing violence against our brothers by neglecting our adopted responsibility towards them. St. Peter more or less faced one moral pitfall and not the other, which is why it is not quite so simple as to adopt his position.

  • Ronald King

    My immediate thought was from Christ stating that a shepherd needs to tend to his flock. I saw that reporters were able to get into the mountains on military helicopters. Perhaps Pope Francis can do the same and be an example of what is expected from us. I love and admire this Pope and I realize this is outside the box but so is our Faith.