FRONT ROYAL, VA — Addressing the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square for the traditional Angelus prayer on August 10th, Pope Francis renewed his call for prayer and concrete assistance for the suffering populations of Iraq.
“The news reports coming from Iraq leave us in dismay and disbelief,” he told the crowd. “Thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women taken and carried off; people massacred; violence of every kind; destruction of historical, cultural and religious patrimonies. All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!”
The purge of Christians in Iraq is “genocide” and a “crime against humanity,” [Congressman Frank Wolf, R-VA] says, calling on Congress and the president to wake up and address the problem.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that the Holy Father was “taking a strong stand in defense [of the Iraqi Christians] and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own home, which for the last 2,000 years has seen them active and contributing to the development of the region.”
But there is a problem, the archbishop continued.
“We are faced with a certain indifference at the practical level with the international community,” he said. “It is difficult to convince… the Western powers to take a strong stance in defense of the Christians.”
Why the “Indifference”?
The reasons go back to 2003. Before Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Saint John Paul II sent a personal emissary to warn the president that the invasion would cause “chaos” — but Bush brusquely brushed him off.
Alas, the pope was right.
And now that the consequences of their perfidy are plain to see, both parties scream, “Out, damned spot!” as they point fingers at one another.
So today, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia has to take to the floor of the House repeatedly to assail the official silence. The purge of Christians in Iraq is “genocide” and a “crime against humanity,” he says, calling on Congress and the president to wake up and address the problem.
Why is our bipartisan political class silent?
The reason is simple: They are cowards. They all voted for the invasion, never mind the lies and treachery that motivated them. Today they all want that sad and damning fact shoved down the Memory Hole.
…right now – ISIS threatens every single Christian Iraqi in sight with death and dismemberment. ...the fact is clear: every one of those Christians is a real refugee.
They always blame somebody else.
George W. Bush, who wore his Christian credentials on his sleeve as a candidate, now remains secluded and silent, without a public word of support or condolence for his fellow Christians, who are suffering by the millions.
But Iraqi Christians are not silent.
Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, a native of Iraq, tells EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo that, in spite of all the violence in Iraq’s recent past, this current scourge is the worst. She bluntly observed — “unfortunately” — that yes, her fellow Iraqis blame the United States. “None of this existed before the 2003 invasion,” she said. They didn’t only “take Saddam out,” she said, “they took the country too…. That whole foreign policy was planned so poorly,” she said, “it really devastated that whole region.”
Patriarch Luis Sako of Mosul shares that view.
Earlier this year, he echoed Saint John Paul: “Intervention by the West in the region did not solve the problems of those countries,” he said, “but on the contrary, produced more chaos and conflict. Honestly, 1,400 years of Islam could not uproot us from our land and our churches, while the policies of the West has scattered us and distributed us all around the world.”
According to Patriarch Sako, “the United States has never formally acknowledged that Christians were being targeted by Islamists and did not prioritize protection of Christians or other ethnic or religious minorities.”
No wonder our politicians are silent.
Nina Shea, Director of the Center for Religious Freedom, warned in 2003 that Bush’s invasion gravely threatened the Christian minorities in the region.
Today Shea is blunt. “This is religious cleansing,” she tells EWTN ‘s Raymond Arroyo. For the first time in 2000 years, she says, every Christian is gone from Mosul. Those who are captured have their eyes plucked out if they refuse to convert. Others are simply killed on the spot.
Who Are the Real Refugees?
While they ignore the extermination of countless Iraqi Christians, our politicians scramble to welcome “refugees” from Central America.
“refugee” status requires proof of persecution by the government in the home country. And Central America doesn’t qualify.
It’s time we called that charade by its proper name: ruthless “Coyotes” are in fact being paid $6,000 per illegal to cause chaos on our border so that drug lords and terrorists can more easily come and go as they please.
Meanwhile, our politicians jockey to gain political points as our border collapses.
But “refugee” status requires proof of persecution by the government in the home country. And Central America doesn’t qualify.
As Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) points out, there has been poverty and gang violence in Central America for years. Moreover, Catholic missionaries in the region tell the Rubble that government persecution has subsided significantly since the days when even Christian catechists were killed by government troops who suspected that they supported leftist terrorists.
On the other hand, today — right now — ISIS threatens every single Christian Iraqi in sight with death and dismemberment.
In this case, the fact is clear: every one of those Christians is a real refugee.
At the request of the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines has asked that we pray on August 17 for Christians in Iraq.
Bishop Pates is an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That group advocates amnesty for the millions of Hispanic illegals who have already managed to enter the U.S.
That amnesty campaign has divided Catholics and alienated many good Americans who support the rule of law.
What Is To Be Done?
Perhaps it’s time for our bishops to shift their focus to the real refugees — the Iraqi Christians who face the threat of death daily.
This worthy cause can unite all Americans.
Every one of those Iraqi Christians has demonstrated heroic faith, fortitude, and courage. Every day they face the real and present danger of martyrdom at the hands of the self-proclaimed Muslim Caliphate.
...it’s time for our bishops to shift their focus to the real refugees — the Iraqi Christians who face the threat of death daily. This worthy cause can unite all Americans.
Their character is superb and unimpeachable.
In contrast, the Central Americans crossing our border are innocent victims, pawns coached and exploited by Coyotes, terrorists, and drug lords.
Yes, most are innocent, but they are not refugees. Like countless millions of the world’s poor, they merely want a more comfortable life that offers security and economic opportunity.
Those Central Americans have families that they can return home to. The Iraqi Christians don’t. Their homes have been destroyed or formally expropriated by the “Islamic Caliphate.”
Let us pray that our bishops will focus their efforts on the Iraqi Christians. Ask them to join us in urging our government to welcome them as the legitimate refugees they really are.
After all, as Patriarch Sako makes clear, American politicians of both parties contributed to their plight. Justice demands that America now help to save them.
From Under the Rubble archives
From Under the Rubble is copyright © 2014
by Christopher Manion.
All rights reserved.
Christopher Manion served as a staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University, the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College.
Email Dr. Manion
See a complete biographical sketch.
To subscribe or donate to the FGF E-Package online or
send a check to:
713 Park St., SE
Vienna, VA 22180