Sandro Magister reminds us that Christianity is under attack in both the East and the West:
On the Sunday and Monday of Easter, in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis did all he could – in the name of dialogue with Islam – to downgrade to generic and “never justifiable” acts the chain of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that had killed hundreds of Christians gathered at church to celebrate Jesus risen, a fifth of them children.
But one week later, on Monday April 29, came the unequivocal “justification.” Five years after his memorable sermon at the grand mosque of Mosul there reappeared in a video the supreme head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who not only claimed responsibility for the hecatomb in Sri Lanka but pointed to it as the model of a new offensive to be unleashed on a worldwide scale, especially in Africa and Asia, with Christians as the first targets.
Meanwhile, in all the churches of Sri Lanka, Mass was not celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, in the fear of new attacks. Christians there are about 7 percent of the population and have been cut to the quick.
Expelled from the territories initially conquered in Syria and Iraq, al-Baghdadi has proclaimed a new “war of attrition,” in Arabic “istinzaf,” against the “crusaders,” with no more armies in the field but with guerrilla acts, assaults, murders, attacks, carried out by militants deployed and concealed everywhere, even in Europe, to judge by the numerous “foreign fighters” who went back to France, Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, etc., after having fought in Syria and Iraq among the ranks of the defeated Islamic State.
And all of this in the name of a radical Islamic ideology that not only “emir of believers” al-Baghdadi boasts of but that “is still widespread and enjoys the support, even financial, from different people. The jihadist vision is infused with revenge and denies spiritual values,” as Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad and cardinal Louis Raphael Sako told “Asia News” on April 30. “The Muslim authorities,” he added, “have the task and the responsibility to defeat this ideology.”
But do Europe, the West, the whole Catholic Church have a response that is up to the challenge?
The burning of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris on April 15 prompted a surge of identification with the “Judeo-Christian” roots of France and of the continent, even in that secular opinion which years ago had fought strenuously to prevent this origin from getting a nod in the founding documents of the European Union.
But it is doubtful that this coming to awareness is meant to last, seeing the indifference with which the West continues to abandon to themselves the Christian Churches in the Middle East, until the recent past still flourishing in some cases but now mostly on the verge of extinction.
A highly documented account of the modern-day martyrdom of the eastern Christian communities is in this book by Giulio Meotti released a few weeks ago in Italy and called by the great English philosopher Roger Scruton “a powerful book about a crime that strikes at the heart of our civilization”:
But the disinterest and disquiet with which the West reacts to this tragedy also demands to be analyzed. And it is that is done by this document of the international theological commission affiliated with the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, produced over five years of work and approved by Pope Francis last March 21, available for now only in Italian:
> La libertà religiosa per il bene di tutti. Approccio teologico alle sfide contemporanee
This document is the most in-depth denunciation produced so far at the Vatican against the “soft totalitarianism” that expels religion from the public sphere in the name of a false “ideology of neutrality.”
The phenomenon has its origin in the West and finds its most macroscopic manifestations there. But it is not only ideological. It is also made up more and more of physical aggression. In France, the accidental burning of Notre-Dame turned the attention for a moment to the ever more numerous acts of vandalism, by no means accidental, that in recent years have struck the churches and synagogues of this same country, the homeland of “laïcité.”
In “L’Osservatore Romano” of April 25 Charles de Pechpeyrou gave a startling account of this:
“The latest episode, just a week ago, concerns the churches of two villages in Normandy, the tabernacles of which were emptied and the consecrated hosts thrown on the floor. A week before the church of Saint Pierre in Montluçon had been hit: the tabernacle was damaged and the ciborium with the consecrated hosts stolen. But the month of February showed itself to be particularly dark: some of the graves of the Jewish cemetery of Quatzenheim, in Alsace, were desecrated, as were five Catholic churches in the span of just a week, in Dijon, in Bourgogne, in Nîmes, in Occitania, or again in Maison-Laffitte, in the environs of Paris. An abrupt intensification after a 2018 already marked by numerous analogous episodes.”
Go here to read the rest. Of course it is entirely possible that many of the attacks in the West involving vandalism are undertaken by Islamic immigrants, in the West with the blessing of the Pope. Catholicism needs strong, vibrant leadership. Instead we have Pope Francis who veers between harmful and useless. The Pope we deserve instead of the Pope we need.