BY SCO Admin | May 15 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


The Church fears genocide by ISIS

Pope Francis condemns those who daily ‘kill Christians in the name of God because they think they are not believers’

Catholic aid workers and clergy on the ground in Syria have warned that the Islamic State (ISIS) is planning ‘genocide’ against Christians in the region.
As Pope Francis reminded the world this week of those who still daily ‘kill Christians in the name of God because they think they are not believers,’ the US director of Aid to the Church in Need said ISIS was engaged in ‘an uncompromising war for a religious and territorial cleansing of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.’
Sarkis Boghjalian, with ACN in the US, said that the actions and ambitions of ISIS had to be classified as ‘genocide’ as the group continues to expand its territory in Iraq and Syria.
“Today there are no Christians left in ISIS-held territories,” Mr Boghjalian said. “There has been no effective action to put a stop to the violation of the fundamental human right of religious freedom; and to ensure that Christians and other minorities are given protection and safe haven.”
ISIS has said it considers all Christians legitimate targets for violence.
Mr Boghjalain said that the already dwindling number of Christians is dropping rapidly across the Middle East. In Iraq, the Christian population has dropped from more than one million to around 300,000 in the past 12 years. In Syria, too, Christians make up a disproportionate number of the 3.5 million refugees who have fled the country.
“For the Christians in the Middle East, fear and a sense of abandonment is among the greatest crosses they have to bear,” Mr Boghjalian said, calling for effective action by the developed world to protect the Christian presence in the region.
His words were echoed in a speech last week by Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, the Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, who warned his flock are in ‘grave danger’ and ‘may disappear soon.’ Speaking in New York, he warned that ‘in both Syria and Iraq, Christian communities—along with other vulnerable minorities—are defenceless against ISIS assaults, especially when they are the prime target of the ‘caliphate’s religious cleansing campaign.’
Archbishop Jeanbart said that he knew Church leaders in Syria ‘welcome the Vatican’s call for an appropriate military response to ISIS and other extremists groups threatening Christians and other vulnerable minorities—in accord with Pope Francis’ insistence that the use of force is “legitimate [when used]… to stop an unjust aggressor.”’
Pope Francis again condemned ISIS violence this week when, at his morning Mass on Monday, he warned Christians face ‘the scandal of persecutions.’
“Today we are seeing those who kill Christians in the name of God because they think they are not believers,” he said before offering some comfort. “This is Christ’s Cross: ‘They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.’ This happened to me—Jesus says—it will happen to you too—the persecutions, the tribulations—but do not be scandalised: the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us understand.”
Lorraine McMahon, Aid to the Church in Need’s Scottish director, said the charity is doing all it can to help save Christians in the Middle East from being wiped out.
“Those Christians who are determined to stay (in the Middle East) need practical and spiritual support. ACN is committed to providing this and, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are able to provide for those who know fully what it means to bear the cost of being a Christian, witnessing to Christ today,” she said

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—This story ran in full in the May 15 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

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