Pope Benedict XVI’s 1st Message for the World Day for Peace in 2006, HERE, had some remarkable content. Unlike many of these messages for various and sundry Days that litter the calendar, this one is worth reading.
In this Message, Benedict writes about the disruption of peace from two angles, nihilism and religious fanaticism, by which I think he is pointing at atheistic Socialism, Communism, etc., (which ultimately wind up nihilistic) and, probably, Islamic extremists.
9. Nowadays, the truth of peace continues to be dramatically compromised and rejected by terrorism, whose criminal threats and attacks leave the world in a state of fear and insecurity. My predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II frequently pointed out the awful responsibility borne by terrorists, while at the same time condemning their senseless and deadly strategies. These are often the fruit of a tragic and disturbing nihilism which Pope John Paul II described in these words: ”Those who kill by acts of terrorism actually despair of humanity, of life, of the future. In their view, everything is to be hated and destroyed”. Not only nihilism, but also religious fanaticism, today often labeled fundamentalism, can inspire and encourage terrorist thinking and activity. From the beginning, John Paul II was aware of the explosive danger represented by fanatical fundamentalism, and he condemned it unsparingly, while warning against attempts to impose, rather than to propose for others freely to accept, one’s own convictions about the truth. As he wrote: ”To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against the dignity of the human being, and ultimately an offence against God in whose image he is made”.
10. Looked at closely, nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force. Despite their different origins and cultural backgrounds, both show a dangerous contempt for human beings and human life, and ultimately for God himself. Indeed, this shared tragic outcome results from a distortion of the full truth about God: nihilism denies God’s existence and his provident presence in history, while fanatical fundamentalism disfigures his loving and merciful countenance, replacing him with idols made in its own image. In analyzing the causes of the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism, consideration should be given, not only to its political and social causes, but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations.
Benedict is describing the roots of terrorism, but his description applies also to states that use terror, such as ISIS and North Korea.
I am not a political scientist, but it seems to me that nihilism and religious fanaticism converge in both the radical Islam of ISIS and in the radial self-reliance and religious cult aspects of Juche in North Korea.
In any event, both ISIS and North Korea are killing Christians in horrible ways.
Via Christianity Today:
Christians ‘Hung On A Cross Over Fire’, Steamrollered And Crushed To Death In North Korea
Christians in North Korea face rape, torture, enslavement, and being killed for their faith, a damning new report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has warned.
CSW, a UK-based religious freedom charity, said in the report, Total Denial: Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea, that freedom of religion or belief “is largely non-existent” under dictator Kim Jong-Un’s leadership.
“Religious beliefs are seen as a threat to the loyalty demanded by the Supreme Leader, so anyone holding these beliefs is severely persecuted,” the report says.
“Christians suffer significantly because of the anti-revolutionary and imperialist labels attached to them by the country’s leadership.”
Among the documented incidents against Christians are “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges and trampled underfoot”.
Other crimes include “extra-judicial killing, extermination, enslavement/forced labour, forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence, and other inhumane acts”.
Though the regime officially says there are just 13,000 Christians in North Korea, the true figure is believed to be much higher. Cornerstone Ministries International, which works with North Korean Christians in the country as well as in China, estimates that there are between 200-300,000 in total.
Believers are forced to practise their faith in secret, and if caught, get sent to North Korea’s notorious hard labour camps. One escapee told CSW that while he was detained, he met a prisoner who was sent to the camp simply because he had spent a month in China studying the Bible.
Read the rest there.