Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Much-Needed Courage of Joseph Ratzinger

There is no doubt in my mind that we live in dangerous times...
The blame-game in Ukraine continues to play between Russia and America...More victims every day...But radical fundamentalism polarizes the world. At the end we do not know who is right!
On Sunday July 27, 2014, Boko Haram, the militant terrorist group, continuing its Islamist challenge of Christianity and other religions in Africa, kidnapped the wife of Cameroon's Vice PM and killed at least 3 more people...Reuters reported it here. It seems that not any powerful nation could face it while the world is on-edge watching the on-going battles of Israel and Hamas. Had Hamas agreed to the Egyptian proposal advanced almost two weeks ago which Israel accepted for a ceasefire, they would have spared the loss of hundreds of lives in Gaza and Israel. But it appears that they wanted time to allow more construction or protection of their tunnels from which the terrorists emerge to launch attacks into Israel while America and France are dragged into the negotiations for a ceasefire together with both Qatar and Turkey who fund Hamas and smuggle weapons to terrorists and Obama raises his concerns when he had not set foot in Gaza. It is interesting that Hamas leaders make the decisions for their suffering people while they are enjoying themselves away from Gaza. And Israelis hawks continue to bombard civilians...Pope Francis appealed to all sides to seek peace, a repeated plea hardly heard. But at what price? Everyone I know wants security in this life and beyond.
It is absurd in that fiasco that nobody wishes to defend the defenseless Christians and Shiite Muslims in Mosul Iraq who had been persecuted by ISIS (DAECH), the new terrorist group emerging from Al-Qaeda while Qatar funds them with billions of dollars. Neither Russia nor America dared to stop them as if words were sufficient. Iraqi News reported that the Vatican sent only $40,000 to all the broken Christians of Iraq, many of them already killed or deported to the North (See here) while the government of France announced later that they are ready to receive the deported Christians in exile.

Why do we need to worry about threats to peace and security? In 1998 Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington published his study "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" reprinted in 2011.  In his book he identifies 8 civilizations that are reshaping or have shaped the world along religious lines. For him radical Islam represents the highest threat to civilization and security of America and Western nations. Why is the West sleeping?

In February 2014, an article by Tom Wilson titled "Jews and the Persecution of Christians" was published in the First Things (See here) where the author recounts a recent interview by The Times of Israel with Malcolm Hoenlein, Chairman of American Jewish Organizations. In the interview, Chairman Hoenlein demanded American and European governments to reverse their current stand and instead take actions and impose sanctions on Islamists that are killing Christians in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Egypt. For him, given the Jewish experience of persecution, it is important that Jews should lend their support to protect Christian minorities. "A century ago Christians constituted 20 percent of the population of the Middle East; Today that number stands at just 4 percent." In the same article Wilson made reference to The 2013 Erasmus Lecture by Jonathan Sacks published in First Things in January 2014. In it, the former chief rabbi forcefully declared "This is the crime against humanity of our time...And I, as a Jew, want to say that I stand solidly with Christians throughout the world to protest against this crime. And I am appalled that the world is silent." Bernard Lewis, the American scholar of Oriental Studies and a specialist in history of the Middle East at Princeton,  has since 1976 predicted "The Return of Islam" (See Commentary here). The moderate Muslim and author, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, read history of Islam in the Middle East and showed his admiration of the studies made by Bernard Lewis. Heikal was read by President El-Sisi of Egypt so we can finally put our fingers on the moderate views of Egypt's new President and his latest proposal for a cease fire between Israel and Hamas. Why is the Arab world in turmoil? In a New York Times, David Brook expressed his opinion "No War is an Island" (here). Does he make sense?

Very recently we received a request from Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. urging us to seek assistance for the defenseless Christians in Iraq through contacts with good-hearts in America and Europe. Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. spoke in the Capitol, Washington on June 26, 2014. His speech emphasized the humanistic and spiritual roots of the West that the Western governments seem to be shedding today for petro-dollars. His full speech can be found here.

Lastly, as I have been reading Joseph Ratzinger, I remembered his lecture at the University of Regensburg in September 2006. There, Professor Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) exposed militant Islam. Speaking about reason, he gives the historical debate between the Christian Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Muslim Persian around 1393 on the subject of Christianity and Islam. Edited by Professor Adel Theodore Khoury, a Melkite Catholic priest and professor at Munster University, the seventh conversation cites the emperor's point: "Show me just what Mohammed brought, and there you will find only things evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."  Professor Ratzinger continues quoting the emperor "God is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (according to reason) is contrary to God's nature."

Any reasonable person can follow what Joseph Ratzinger said and read the rest of his lecture (See the full lecture here).

Eight years later, while we recognize the peaceful attitude of the vast majority of Muslims and with the fathers of Vatican II praise with them the one God (see Nostra Aetate), we recognize the truth in Joseph Ratzinger's (or Pope Benedict XVI) address for we need his courage.

Yet, we never know how Providence works. As on the night of the arrest of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, Caiaphas predicted, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the imminent death of Christ to save the whole people of God, it is possible that the appeal of Pope Francis for global peace is probably ushering the convening of Vatican III that restores unity among Christians or the unity of nations or better yet the Pope may have ushered the Second Coming of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, who is the Truth.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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