A priest comments on the Baghdad massacre

Fr. Raymond de Souza had a comment about the massacre of Catholic Christians in Baghdad.  This is from Catholic Education Resource Center with my emphases and comments.

His Wrath Upon Their Heads
The blood of Baghdad screams out to heaven and earth. [The phrase is evocative.  The phrase “screams out to heaven” can only be completed in a certain way.]

There has been an orgy of violence in Iraq this week, as terrorists have set off a series of bombs, murdering well over 100 people. But what happened last Sunday was so utterly horrific that it merits special, and thunderous, condemnation, backed up with lethal force if necessary.

On Sunday, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group stormed into the cathedral of the Syriac Catholic Church, Our Lady of Deliverance, during the evening Mass. They immediately killed the priest offering the Holy Mass – three priests in all were murdered. They began shooting members of the congregation, and held hostage others who took refuge in a locked room. When the security forces stormed the church, the jihadists killed as many as they could, and some of them set off the suicide bombs on their belts.

Close to 60 Catholics were killed. In their cathedral. At Mass. It has now come to this, where Christians are killed at prayer by Muslim fanatics. [It sounds very much as if they were killed precisely from hatred of Catholicism.]

Christians have been in Iraq from the earliest centuries, long before there was an Iraq or, one might note, there was Islam. Jihadists have launched a campaign with genocidal intent, aimed at driving out every last Christian from what they consider to be an Islamic land. It is now clear that the only place such jihadists envision for Christians in Iraq is the grave.

The Catholic archbishop has been killed. Priests have been riddled with bullets upon leaving their churches. Ordinary Christians, trying to live a quiet life, have been subject to harassment, threats and violence. Iraq in the aftermath of the American invasion has been particularly dangerous, but antiChristian violence stretches across the Islamic world.

Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called ‘free’ world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan after these latest killings.

Indeed, the international community issued the usual boilerplate condemnations, most of them refusing to identify those responsible. [This is the usual situation.] The same statements could have been used had the Rotarians decided to massacre the Salvation Army. In the Church, too, there is often a reluctance to support vigorously Christians under attack, and to call things by name.

“As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations,” is how the final statement of the recent Vatican Synod of Bishops on the Middle East characterized Christian-Muslim relations. Imbalances? As in the imbalance between the jihadist throwing the grenade and the Catholic family being blown up?

The blood on the altar makes it clear. No amount of goodwill, no amount of dialogue, no amount of circumlocutory evasions, no amount of supine prostrations – nothing will dissuade the jihadists. So let us not abnegate ourselves over the dead bodies of our fallen brethren in Christ. Let us speak frankly of those who want to kill us.

Allahu Akbar – God is great! So those Catholics on Sunday heard the jihadists shout in the church. Can there be any greater sacrilege than to kill the innocent at prayer, while shouting that God is great?

The jihadists respect neither man nor God, not even their own. They have killed their fellow Muslims and bombed mosques. The Christians killed on Sunday were Iraqis, their fellow Arabs, their fellow citizens, their neighbours. They kill because they are seized with a murderous hatred. The least we can do is to summon a righteous anger in return. [I wonder if this needs to be expanded with a review of the tenets of Islam concerning the spread of Islam and dealings with the infidel.]

The Christian always hopes for conversion and offers forgiveness. There must also be justice and prudence, and prudence demands that those who would kill in the name of God are best despatched quickly to their judgment.

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. So Scripture teaches us, and so it must be for us, leaving vengeance to the Lord, and imploring the grace of conversion and reconciliation. But let us not blanch from raising our voices to the Lord, with righteous anger and hot tears, that He might visit His vengeance upon those who did this, bring down His wrath upon their heads and exact upon them a terrifying justice in full measure.

That’s not the language of imbalances; it is the anguish and agony of the shepherd when the flock is being slaughtered.

WDTPRS KUDOS to Fr. de Souza for his forthright comments.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Microtouch says:

    Not much more to say. Fr. de Souza said it all. Except; Everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9-11.

  2. Miriam says:

    “The blood on the altar makes it clear. No amount of goodwill, no amount of dialogue, no amount of circumlocutory evasions, no amount of supine prostrations – nothing will dissuade the jihadists. So let us not abnegate ourselves over the dead bodies of our fallen brethren in Christ. Let us speak frankly of those who want to kill us.

    Allahu Akbar – God is great! So those Catholics on Sunday heard the jihadists shout in the church. Can there be any greater sacrilege than to kill the innocent at prayer, while shouting that God is great?”

    I saw a discussion with Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer. The video is at Madrid’s website. The final conclusion? The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim. Only those not following the Koran seem to be the peaceful ones. Because those who read that book and believe it hate us. We are the infidels and their mission is to kill us all.

    If God put into every human heart the ability to know him, and I believe that He did, then those who are doing this violence around the world will see a completely different outcome at their own death than the paradise they expect.


  3. msmsem says:

    Dare I say the C word?

    Fr. de Souza makes a very good point… Simply put, they hate us – what can we do? We just finished reading about the Maccabees in the Office of Readings; perhaps they were onto something.

  4. albizzi says:

    In my opinion clearly the US are the main responsible of this awful situation.
    Saddam Hussein was the only man to keep all the Irak’s religions quiet under his iron hand and he succeeded, since the Christians weren’t persecuted and lived in good terms with all the muslims .
    The tragedy is that the US policy is made by incompetent men who are living on another planet far from Earth.
    The only way to stop the chaos the Irak currently is in was to put the deal in Sadam’s hands once he was caught:
    “Sadam you have no other choice: Either you accept to work for us (the US) and you regain your power under our control, either you will be executed.”

  5. pfreddys says:

    you beat me my analysis perfectly {and expressed it probably better than I}
    I’ve said in the past under Saddam Hussein you can call the foreign minister: Catholic, in modern Iraq you can call a Catholic: dead.
    The only ones who benefitted from Bush/Cheney’s little adventure was the oil companies, and Islam.

  6. Daniel Latinus says:

    Maybe it’s time to dust off the traditional votive Mass “Against the Heathen”.

    Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, in cujus manu sunt omnium potestates, et omnium jura regnorum: respice in auxilium Christianorum; ut gentes paganorum, quæ in sua feritate confidunt; dexteræ tuæ potentia conterantur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen

    Almighty, everlasting God, in whose hand are the power and the government of every realm; look upon and help the Christian people, that the heathen nations who trust in the fierceness of their own might, may be crushed by the power of Thine Arm. Through our Lord Jsus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, through all ages of ages. Amen.

  7. chcrix says:

    I learned everything I needed to know about U.S. foreign policy – gradually – after 9/11.

    I learned that the United States attacked a country that

    Was not a threat.
    Had not attacked us.
    Had no weapons of mass destruction.

    Seven years and more than a hundred thousands deaths later the U.S. government still maintains about 50k troops and 50k contractors in that country.

    The word “Blowback” needs to be etched into the minds of Americans.

    JP2 and BXVI (and BXV for that matter) were right.

    The people massacred would be alive today absent the muddle headed Wilsonian interventionism that is the religion of our ruling elites.

  8. Gail F says:

    This is a letter I sent to our Archdiocesan newspaper, in response to a typical editorial calling for peace. They did publish it:


    I am glad to see the synod of Middle Eastern bishops addressed in your latest editorial. We are a universal church, and the problems of the church are not addressed enough in the American Catholic media. Solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world is something we all have a duty to seek.

    However, the editorial overlooked most of the pressing problems of the Middle East and took the easy way out by simply calling for peace. The world has been calling for peace in the Middle East for decades, and the inhabitants of that troubled part of the world have been fighting over it for millennia. You ended the editorial with, “The church in the world and in the United States can offer great influence and insight into the work that must be done to achieve peace and true equality for all persons of the Middle East.” The obvious question is, How? If there is a viable way for the church in the United States to help foster peace in the Middle East, I would like to know it.

    American influence in the Middle Eastern peace process has accomplished very little. Of the 41 synod propositions, you mentioned only one: That Christians in the Middle East should be educated about the beliefs of their Muslim and Jewish neighbors in strengthened “dialogue programs” that would help people accept each other.

    Let’s face facts here: The most pressing problem for many Catholics in the Middle East is how not to be murdered or driven from their homes by Muslims. In countries where those are not daily concerns, Catholics face the obstacles of being unable to build churches, being unable to accept converts, being unable to practice their faith openly, and of course being under constant social pressure to convert to Islam for better jobs and better living conditions.

    Now Israel is considering requiring non-Jews to swear an oath to live by Jewish principles, which is hardly a step toward reconciliation with other faiths. Following Christ in the Middle East often means accepting poverty, discrimination and even martyrdom. Daily life as a Catholic in the Middle East requires a commitment and sacrifice that most of us have a hard time imagining.

    It would be nice if all that we had to do to get along was understand our neighbors better. Yes, we want peace. Yes, we must pray for peace. Yes, the world needs peace in the Middle East. But real peace is hard work. And all too often, saying “they should all get along over there” is the only work we’re willing to do. I hope that in the future, the Telegraph will explore some of what is being done to help Catholics in the Middle East, and how we in Cincinnati can help.

  9. meippoliti says:

    I agree with Father Z, I would like to read more about what Islam believes and how to deal with the infidel. One of the reasons this attack happened was because two Coptic women had married Muslim men, then divorced them and returned to the Church. These women were having to be protected by the Church (because who else would protect them?), even though Iraq says they allow “freedom of worship” (not freedom of religion mind you).
    Apostasy from Islam is punishable by death. It is sad and horrifying all at the same time that one of the reason the Chaldeans (the original Iraqis) were killed because of revenge and honor. What does Islam teach about revenge and how is thie honorable?

  10. gsk says:

    I have begun a series concerning the difference between the Christian and Muslim understanding of Our Lady:


  11. The Astronomer says:

    In a former incarnation working for the US Gov’t, I was privy to working with ‘believing’ Muslims, both shi’a and sunni. In either case, me & my colleagues often remarked that they held a religious version of the old Brezhnev Doctrine from the cold War “What’s Mine is MINE and what’s yours will be eventually.” These Muslims, in their unguarded moments, or their private communications, often referred to us, to whom we were openly referred to as ‘our good friends,’ as the “idolatrous infidel worshippers of the cross.” That’s a direct quote…it was not uncommon to read 9 pages of communications messages larded down with praise for Allah and contempt/condemnation for their Western collaegues that only contained a few snippets of actual usable information.

    Sometimes we can’t turn the other cheek…sometimes it’s Christ going after the moneychangers….He definitely wasn’t asking them for a dialogue committee.

    Where’s Pope Julius II when we need him? HH B-XVI could take a lesson.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, The Astronomer. I wish others would understand the depth of hatred the Muslims have for Christians and Jews, and their desire for Global Islam-that is, the complete Nation of Islam over every country in the world.

  13. priests wife says:

    Thanks for posting this, Father. This massacre has gotten far, far less press than the baptist minister who threatened to burn a Koran.

  14. irishgirl says:

    Right you are, Astronomer!
    I, for one, am rather tired of ‘having to turn the other cheek’ all the time. This is one of those times when you just want to hit back! I don’t want to be a doormat!
    And I like your image of Our Lord going after the money changers!
    Why isn’t the Western world more tough in its speech? Why is there always ‘diplo-speak’ instead? Why can’t the West ‘hit back’ against Moslem extremists? Have we become so spiritually and morally flabby?

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, many in the world, including our great enemy, satan, would love to see the Catholic Church die, individual by individual. As St. Paul states, we are not dealing merely with earthly powers, but spiritual ones.

    Father de Souza is here not only praised, but prayer for, as he will get death threats.

    Connected to our other discussion, can one not see that Allah is not Our God, the God of Abraham, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? Our God does not take glory in the death of anyone, and Our God died on the Cross for such as these who murdered out brothers and sisters in Christ, and all of us.

  16. MaranathaMaranatha says:

    @albizzi and pfreddys:

    It is one thing to place blame for a particular situation or circumstance on someone or some political entity. It is quite another to blame them for the atrocities committed under that same circumstance or situation in an attempt to politicize the hatred of Christians by Muslims who view themselves as the most devout, pious and orthodox. (Please see the recent debate between Robert Spencer of jihadwatch.org and Dr. Peter Kreeft.) It is thinking like yours, shortsighted when you view the vast history of conflicts the United States has had with Islam, that echoes the same Liberal message that the United States brought on and deserved 9/11. “From the shores of Tripoli” to Blackjack John Jay Pershing in the Philippines to alliances between Muslims and the Nazi regime to 9/11, the cause has been and always will be the tenets and teachings of Islam.

    What Fr. Z pondered, “I wonder if this needs to be expanded with a review of the tenets of Islam concerning the spread of Islam and dealings with the infidel,” I hold as an elementary question. Indeed, do Catholics or other Christians define Islam and its tenets, as some do when they indicate that it’s only the radical Muslims that cause all the problems while at the same time declaring that we worship the same God? Or do Islam and its members define Islam? With the Koran and hadith – the heart of their faith – to back them up, the more “radical” Muslims are indeed the more faithful and orthodox (to Islam). Go figure.

    Why do we not say that we worship the same god as the Mormons? They too had an “Angel of Light” appear to its founder delivering new scripture. Similarities and dim intimations of the fullness of Christianity are there in Islam, certainly, as we can see the search for God in other religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. But would we dare say that the “Great Spirit” of Native American faith traditions is THE SAME Trinitarian God we worship? To push the analogy, would we say that in a dim and clouded way Luciferians or Satanists worship the Triune God? Of course not. The answer can only and ultimately be decided by the faith in question despite how much some Christians want simile and oneness to be identical in meaning.

    Frank talk brings about discussion of the truth. Indeed, this setting is the best place to be. We should avoid political blame as a coverall and truly place blame where blame originates, not where we want it to originate.

  17. Tina in Ashburn says:

    The reason for the Crusades should become clearer and clearer. Today’s world is much worse off than during the Crusades.

  18. DisturbedMary says:

    More blood reported today. More terrified Christians. No world response. No US response. No fear of God. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  19. Martial Artist says:

    It is in the sense in which Fr. De Souza writes

    There must also be justice and prudence, and prudence demands that those who would kill in the name of God are best despatched quickly to their judgment

    that I have always respected the adage seen on some USMC-themed T-shirts which states:

    “It is God’s task to judge. Our job is to arrange the meeting.”

    That may seem too unforgiving, and perhaps it is, but I think that, in Fr. De Souza’s words, “prudence demands” it.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  20. Peggy R says:

    This post of yours is somewhat different from what is posted at the web site you link. We don’t see the Allahu Akbar paragraph, eg. And Fr. de Souza adds on the web site a condemnation of a frankly idiotic statement by Bishop Farrell of Dallas.

    No response from the US State Dept, Fr de Souza says in the article linked.

    You should look Fr it is different. But both are good.

  21. Emilio III says:

    Just before coming here I was looking up the verses left out of Psalm 139 in today’s Evening Prayer:

    19  Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God:
    Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
    20  For they speak against thee wickedly,
    And thine enemies take thy name in vain.
    21  Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee?
    And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
    22  I hate them with perfect hatred:
    I count them mine enemies.

    There are times when I wish they had left the psalter alone in the new LOTH.

  22. DHippolito says:

    The people massacred would be alive today absent the muddle headed Wilsonian interventionism that is the religion of our ruling elites.

    This is unmitigated balderdash! Americans didn’t have boots on the ground in the West Bank, yet Palestinian Christians face violent persecution from Muslims. Americans haven’t had boots on the ground in Egypt since WWII, yet Coptic Christians face violent persecution from Muslims. Americans have never had boots on the ground in Indonesia or Nigeria, yet Christians face violent persecution from Muslims there, as well.

    Besides, do those of you who believe the italicized really know what you’re saying? You’re saying that you trust a bloody dictator who knows no law other than his own will to protect people, especially people belonging to “your group.” Given the history of such people (Hitler, Stalin, Khomeini, Mao, Castro, etc.), that is an absurd proposition! Such a man can easily turn on those whom he favors at the slightest instant. Just read about Stalin’s purges.

    Moreover, JPII and BXVI were not right. JPII actively appeased Islam; he also opposed the 1990-91 Gulf War that extricated Iraq from Kuwait. No Christians being persecuted in that little tussle but that didn’t matter in JPII’s geopolitical analysis. BXVI isn’t the appeaser that JPII was but he has done nothing substantial about confronting Islam since his Regensburg address.

    Anybody who believe the italicized comment above doesn’t give a damn about how many Iraqis were crucified, thrown into wood shredders, raped in front of the victim’s spouse and mutilated by gouging out eyes, nailing tongues to wooden boards and amputating penises and female breasts with electric carving knives. This is what Saddam’s minions did.

    But talk about “waterboarding” and Catholics get apoplectic!

    I’ll take the Bush/Cheney “mistakes” over the Wojtyla/Ratzinger “morality” any day of the week. I’ve seen where each leads.

    BTW, I wonder if any of you “just war” people have the testicular fortitude to go up to a veteran and express your reservations? Frankly, I wonder how many of you even have testicles?

  23. jflare says:

    albizzi & freddys:
    As I read your comments, I’m reminded of how terribly easily the world and the faithful can be persuaded to repeat history. I’m also reminded of just how determined the “peace” crowd is, especially when deciding that this person or that nation obviously caused problems we see today.

    If you wish to insist that Iraq wasn’t a threat to anyone, that the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam’s iron fist (one of you admits that much, at least), that Bush lied, whatever, I can’t stop you.

    But before you sit happily in your armchair, remember this: When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, nobody was ready to deal with them.
    You’re infuriated that several hundred thousand have died in Iraq since 2002?
    May I remind you that this many or more lie in graveyards in Normandy alone? Partly because too many people didn’t wish to see a growing threat for what it was?

    We’ll never know how many might’ve lived or died in the Mid-East had things gone differently. We DO know that several million people now have a chance to create a country that honors every person and faith. That’s the essence of what the people of the United States have fought for since 1941, if not earlier. It’s only a chance, but it’s better than they likely would’ve got otherwise.

    Most tyrants are known for their intolerance of faith…..

  24. Geremia says:

    The more I see this sort of thing, the more I believe Nostra Ætate—which said: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems.” (“Ecclesia cum aestimatione quoque Muslimos respicit“)—was on of Vatican II’s worst, fallible documents.

  25. Kerry says:

    More quotes from Robert Reilly’s Closing of the Muslim Mind: “The Mutakallims rejected the Aristotelian doctrine of matter and form as a prerequisite for rejecting natural causation and restated the early Ash’arite atomism with fresh arguments, (Kerry here, they used reason to destroy reason), until affirmation of atomism and denial of natural casuation came to be looked upon as almost a cardinal religious dogma regarded as a necessary steop to prove the temporal creation of the world and the Islamic eschatology. They began with a conclusion received from revelation, and then deduced what they thought was necessary to support it in metaphysical terms. This drove them to abandon causality in the natural world. In short, the Ash’arites were compelled by their theology to deny reality.” (!!)

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The most detailed and apparently reliable info I’ve run into about the two Coptic women is in Paul Marshall at http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=7478

    Thinking out loud about details I have not seen discussed anywhere:

    What is the particular dedication of the Cathedral, variously translated (here, “of the Deliverance”)?

    Presumably, this was on the Feast of All Saints in the calendar of the “Syriac Catholic Church” (?).
    A Feast that was historically expanded from “all martyrs”.

    I have seen quoted from the attackers website references to these Christians as “polytheists”. Presumably, this reflects not only a millenial indisposition of Moslems in general to try to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but of many (how many?) to consider the invocations of Saints – not least the Theotokos – as acts of “polytheist” idolatry (or however best to say it).

    Is it not likely that there is an extraordinary degree of calculated nastiness – whether human, kakodemonic, or both – in attacking those celebrating in this Church on this Feast? (Cf. “he trusted in Him that He would deliver him, let Him deliver him, if He delight in him”.) (Even extending to the monstrously ‘relic-providing’ violence of the ball-bearing bomb vests?)

    Further, a possible Coptic dimension: during the lifetime of the Coptic Patriarch Cyril VI (patriarch 1956-71), according to the Coptologist, Dr. N. Doorn-Harder, he was regarded by both many Copts and many Egyptian Moslems as a Saint. In 1968 there were diverse appearances of the Virgin Mary on the tower of a Church in Zaytûn, a neighbourhood of Cairo, seen by Christians and Moslems alike. Many took and take this to be a heavenly confirmation of the Sanctity of Cyril.

    Is it not likely that Moslems such as the attackers are as hostile to any Moslems who ‘presume’ to recognize Saints (and especially Christian Saints) as against Christians, and that there is a ‘we are the only true Moslems, all other “supposed Moslems” deserve to perish’ dimension implicit here?

    Is not the “Syriac Catholic Church” one historically demanding no special rights for Christians, including no distinct country or territory/province (etc.), most willing to cooperate in whatever the current form of society? Were they partly singled out for this? This is total war on all Christians, even the most easy-going? (I do not know how Tariq Aziz complicates this aspect of it – ?)

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