Given that no world power is willing to step in to effectively defend the Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria facing genocide and slavery by ISIS, the only realistic alternative to genocide is to evacuate the minorities — NOW. The minorities must be sheltered by all countries of good will.
The lack of effective defense of these minorities will be seen by a future age as a great crime of neglect and cowardice. Personally, I am ashamed at the lack of action by our government.
One charity that “supports the rescue, restoration, and return of Middle Eastern Christians and other ethno/religious people to a home where they can live and practice their faith free from fear” is the Cradle Fund. Please support the Cradle Fund.
In song and in sermon, Christians are often exhorted to “Build the Kingdom of God.” But because the Kingdom of God is a gift, “building the Kingdom of God” is a theological misnomer:
Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope. And we cannot—to use the classical expression—”merit” Heaven through our works. Heaven is always more than we could merit, just as being loved is never something “merited”, but always a gift. However, even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit, it will always be true that our behaviour is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history. We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good. This is what the saints did, those who, as “God’s fellow workers”, contributed to the world’s salvation (cf. 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Th 3:2). We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future. We can uncover the sources of creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift, according to its intrinsic requirements and ultimate purpose. This makes sense even if outwardly we achieve nothing or seem powerless in the face of overwhelming hostile forces. So on the one hand, our actions engender hope for us and for others; but at the same time, it is the great hope based upon God’s promises that gives us courage and directs our action in good times and bad. (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Saved in Hope, 35)
Here’s another one of my favorite talks by the late Cardinal Francis George, OMI, on the Ecclesiology of Communion, given at Leeds Trinity University in 2012 —
–in which he made a critical distinction between the ecclesiology of of Faith and Culture versus that of Church and State, and he emphasized the Vatican II teaching on the Church as the sacrament of the unity of the human race (Lumen Gentium, Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1). These distinctions have profound implications for pastoral and educational practice.
This talk requires several separate hearings to capture some of the prescient points the late Cardinal shared.
Jesus taught that the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13), and to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34). By His willing acceptance of human suffering and death, Jesus transformed and transcended the meaning of suffering and death.
Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love as he loved could not simply have evolved to radical altruism through a biological process, where altruism arises to a point, but could only have been revealed–introduced as something completely new–as a Divine Gift by Jesus.
This love-teaching of Jesus is an historic fact in human culture.
We Catholic Christians remember Jesus’ New Commandment of Love both in the way we live and in our celebration of the Eucharist. By consuming the Body and Blood of Christ in the appearance of consecrated bread and wine as a living, present, continuing act of Love, we declare our unity with this Love, Who is God. In so doing, we proclaim the Resurrection of Christ.
In believing in Jesus and in sharing in his Church as Catholic Christians, we listen to the truth which makes us free (John 8:32). To reveal this truth and freedom Jesus suffered death and rose from the dead for our sake, and gave us the gift of His Church.
Hope requires trust in that which greater than ourselves–not in the state, which in the end can enslave–but in God, Who frees.
Without this Christ and His Church, there would be no transcendence of suffering and death, no hope of human unity, no hope of eternal life, no hope that the poor in spirit will be blessed, or that the meek will inherit the earth, or that the merciful will obtain mercy, or that those who hunger and thirst for justice will be satisfied (Matthew 5:5). Those who reject belief in God and His Church risk rejecting these good things. In the end, the atheist to be consistent must reject also the Beatitudes.
A world without the living Love of Jesus Christ is a world without hope of overcoming slavery, strife, despair, and violence.
Science is necessary to offer healing to a point, but cannot offer lasting hope, nor a sure path to human unity without another failed and destructive attempt at totalitarian government–since to enforce universal atheism will once again require totalitarianism.
Belief should not reject science. Far from it. Neither does science contradict belief. But science has yet to demonstrate that it can in and of itself overcome pseudo-science. The (1) persistence of quackery in medicine (witness daytime TV and late-night infomercials, and intellectual thralldom to the unproved theories of Freud for the better part of a century), the (2) politicization of the social sciences which have weakened science as a positive force, and (3) continuing breaches of scientific ethics at universities all speak to the reality of science as an imperfect work in progress, not as a finished product.
Today both Christian belief and science are weakened forces, but both still seek truth. It is possible, and desirable, to embrace Christian belief while respecting and practicing science.
Once one recognizes that there is an aspect of Love that is transcendent, beyond what science can explain, one has entered into the truth of belief in God.
A more probing and prayerful mind than that of the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago can probably not be found.
Several of Cardinal George’s important presentations can be found on Youtube. Here is one of my favorites, in which he offers, along with his views on religious liberty, something of a theology of history, leading up to his recasting the challenge of religious freedom today as Faith and Culture, not simply Church and State:
Francis Cardinal George. O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago presents Dignitatis Humanae: The Second Vatican Council’s Document on Religious Liberty @ St. Procopius Abbey, Tuesday, September 4, 2012:
The sexual abuse of children is akin to and inseparable from slavery, and thus sadly has molested human civilization for millennia. The past forty years have witnessed a cascade of revelations that have shaken religious, media, business, higher education, and now political organizations worldwide. As painful as have been these revelations, they can be among the most positive advances in human history if in the end they reduce the scourge of abuse. The abused ones who come forward are the heroes whom history should honor and remember.
For the past five years in Ireland, and especially the past few months, the child sex abuse accusations brought forth by the courageous and determined Mairia Cahill (born in 1981 in West Belfast), the grandniece of the former chief of staff of the IRA and herself the former National Secretary of Ogra Shinn Féin, have rocked the Sinn Fein party with greater intensity. Ms. Cahill (pronounced, caa’-hill, with emphasis on the first syllable) claimed to have been abused as a teen by an IRA member at a safe house, and to have been subjected to continual mistreatment by the IRA when she came forward with her accusations. In addition, Ms. Cahill claimed that the IRA simply “exiled” this alleged abuser south to the Republic of Ireland after forcing her to confront her alleged abuser in an IRA-staged extra-legal trial. Ms. Cahill furthermore has claimed that on numerous occasions the IRA secretly exiled sexual abusers to the south of Ireland, and perhaps executed some, and that Sinn Fein has systematically covered up these extra-legal actions for years.
Ms. Cahill has taken a growing, public role in the political arena with her accusations (you can skip to minute 4:05 for her own remarks) —
Sinn Fein for its part began first to respond, like religious and other leaders facing similar accusations, with outright denial, then an appeal for people to come forward with information, then apology, and most recently, their call for an all-Ireland “sex abuse initiative.”
Contrast the decisive statements of Sinn Fein politician Mary Lou McDonald against clergy sex abuse in 2009 —
with Ms. McDonald’s own positively “episcopal” statements about accusations of abuse late in 2014 —
In the past week, another victim claiming similar IRA abuse and coverup, Paudie McGahon, 40, came forward–
–causing a second shoe to drop for Sinn Fein.
There are numerous videos online of interviews and statements by Ms. Cahill, perhaps the longest and most dramatic being from the BBC Spotlight NI program late in 2014 —
I pray for Ms. Cahill’s safety, and for healing and even joy for her and other victims. She continues to put herself at great risk on behalf of others. Her presence of mind and spirit are indeed admirable, and are an example of the grand and good gifts that the Irish people give to the world.
Professor Liam Kennedy of Queen’s University Belfast has called for a wider inquiry into the abuse, both physical and sexual, of children by paramilitary groups, estimating five hundred such cases —
Such inquiries can contribute to what St. John Paul II called the “healing of memories.”
I offer only a theory in reflection: My theory is that the culture of abuse is historically paired with the culture of slavery. Dublin was used as a slave-trade center centuries ago by the Norse. I wonder if patterns of sexual abuse might be traced across millennia from similar ancient, slave-trading ports, which may have established patterns of sick behavior that hid within the more advanced culture that grew over such ancient ills. Abuse and organizations tending toward secrecy made and do make a deadly pair, and can perpetuate the abuse. Happily, the extraordinary witness of Ms. Cahill gives us hope that abuse is foreign to civilization, and not intrinsic to it.