It seems to keep getting worse and worse. Now we hear of three innocent, beloved sisters raped and beheaded at their mission in Burundi. Even the police were sickened by the ruthlessness.
Father Paolo Mikko, the local parish priest, tells us how the ISIS forces drove the ancient Christian community from Erbil, in Iraqui Kurdistan: militants of the “Islamic Caliphate” took over churches and convents, burned crosses, statues, and the Bible, and instructed the few Christians who could not flee to “convert to Islam, pay a protection tax – - or die.” The director of UNICEF in Iraq, Marzio Babelli, described it as a “jihadist ethnic cleansing,” as the persecutors brag that the city is “Christian free,” with the word “Nazarene” spray-painted in derision on the shells of the torched homes of the fleeing Christians.
Move south to Nigeria, where my friend Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos, spends most of his time burying Catholics butchered by Boko Haram, or praying with his people outside the smoking embers of their former churches, destroyed by militants.
We haven’t even mentioned the attacks on the venerable yet fragile Christian villages of Syria, where half-a-million have fled certain death; or South Sudan, where a systematic and ruthless extermination of a Christian minority is taking place.
No wonder Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, asks, “Who will stand up for the Christians?” and calls this Christianophobia “Nazi like.” His brave summons is the more heroic given the fact that the Jewish community has all it can do to counteract the nasty growing anti-semitism rolling through Europe, one place you’d think would know better.
Yet voices like this are rare. No wonder Bishop Warduni in Baghdad asks, “Why are you all silent? Why do you not speak out?”
The voices are beginning to be heard! Pope Francis ceaselessly urges a stop to this horror, and recently placed before the UN “the tears, the suffering, the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and religious minorities,” and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged President Obama to act.
John Carr, a columnist for America, reminds us of the shallowness of those who make political hay out of an alleged “war on women” here in America, while ignoring the rape and beheading of Christian women in many countries dominated by extremists, who place the heads of women and children on crude stick crosses in the villages.
Thank you, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, for asking “How is it possible that . . . atrocities occur?” I appreciate even more your reply. “For two reasons: because there are those prepared to commit them, and there are those who remain silent.”
No longer can we be quiet! We need columnists like Kirsten Powers not scared to speak of the “religicide of Christianity;” we count on the indefatigable efforts of leaders such as Congressman Frank Wolf, who takes every opportunity to bring such “religicide” to the attention of Washington.
And it’s time to wonder about the silence of the leaders of authentic Islam. Thank you. Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, who calls the atrocities what they are: “a violation of all the Islamic values, the higher objectives of Islamic law, and the universal values shared by all mankind.”
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks provides us with an examination of conscience as he observes, “It would indeed be awful to think that the West might remain silent as violence rages purely out of a failure to recognize that Christians can be victimized . . .”
Thirteen years ago today, this city we’re proud to call home saw raw evil, hate, and violence up close and personal, and we’re still rightly not over it. The supportive voices of our global neighbors helped get us through. They gave us a great example. Now suffering Christians need our voices, not our silence.