Silence/Words/Action (Update)

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad laments Western silence regarding the plight of Christians in Iraq:

“Where is the respect for the rights of Christians?” the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni asks Vatican Radio. “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they?  There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?”

Yesterday, however, a New York Times editorial did speak forcefully:

The brutal crackdown, by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an offshoot of Al Qaeda known as ISIS, has cleared Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, of a Christian population that has lived there for two millenniums. These attacks deserve the strongest possible international condemnation and may warrant prosecution as a crime against humanity.

And Vatican Radio reports today that some prominent Muslim leaders are also speaking out:

The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims.

In a statement, he officially denounced the "forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a "crime that cannot be tolerated.” The Secretary General also distanced Islam from the actions of the militant group known as ISIS, saying they "have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

Tomorrow's L'Osservatore Romano announces that a group of French bishops, led by Cardinal Barbarin of Lyon, and accompanied by several journalists, will travel to Baghdad to meet with the Patriarch. Their intent is to join words and prayers with concrete manifestations of solidarity and support.

Meanwhile French dioceses are planning days of prayer and fasting, as well as collecting funds to support their beleaguered and persecuted brothers and sisters.

What actions are being taken in the United States? Could a National Day of Fast be proclaimed, perhaps in preparation for the Feast of the Transfiguration? Could a delegation from the Bishops Conference travel to Iraq, accompanied by editors of prominent Catholic periodicals? Pope Francis is paying a visit both tomorrow and Monday to the Italian town of Caserta. Is Baghdad (if not Mosul) the visitation of greater urgency, where severely tested Christians truly need to be "confirmed in the faith?"

Update:

Rod Dreher reports on France's offer of asylum to Mosul Christians:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/france-friend-of-iraqi-chr...

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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