Pope, patriarchs and prelates are crying out for intervention. Where are the presidents and prime ministers?
I’ve known Maronite leader Monsignor Sharbel Maroun for many years, talked with him on radio in 2006 after Telelumiere was nearly destroyed in the Lebanon War that summer, and many times before and after then about the ongoing work of unity and mutual respect of Christians and Muslims in the Middle East. He just returned from Lebanon recently, we talked again this week, and he is despondent. What he said is captured well here.
Catholics in the Middle East are being persecuted and slaughtered while the world watches and remains silent, said the leader of an Eastern rite Catholic community.
“It is a very heartbreaking situation, affecting everybody but mainly Christians,” said Msgr. Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron Maronite Parish in Minneapolis. “The Middle East is an erupting volcano, causing so many people to be wounded, displaced, injured and killed. There is a wave of persecution — I think it is a systematic persecution — that the church hasn’t seen since the early ages.”…
“It is devastating that the international community is just watching, doing nothing,” Msgr. Maroun said.
Several weeks ago, Christians were told to get out or be killed, and the international community said nothing and did nothing.
“I am talking about the international community in general, including the super powers,” he said. “By not doing anything, you are as guilty as those who are killing Christians. This is plain English.”
Msgr. Maroun said it is similar to the silence of the world when Jews were persecuted, rounded up and murdered wholesale in Nazi Germany.
“The Christians have been appealing, crying, begging the world to do something about this situation in the Middle East,” Msgr. Maroun said.
Those three statements tie together some important pleas by other leaders and leading voices.
Consider them in reverse order.
Pope Francis, other Vatican representatives and several Patriarchs have appealed to the United Nations and the international community to intervene in the most dangerous places for minorities, in what is clearly a sweep of maniacal genocide.
Some Jewish leaders see with clarity history repeating itself, and have cried out about the silence as it unfolds in sheer, graphic, and now widely known brutality. Like Ronald Lauder in the New York Times, asking Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?
Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?
As the leader of the World Jewish Congress, Lauder
slammed global apathy to persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world, saying more countries should be moved to action.
“The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene,” wrote Ronald S. Lauder in an Aug. 19 New York Times editorial.
“The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent,” he said. “This campaign of death must be stopped.”
Lauder stated that while the international community has rallied to defend the persecution of other minorities in other conflicts…“the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.”
Noting a range of offenses against “Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries” in the Middle East and parts of Africa, he decried a lack of action…
“Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings,” Lauder warned. He noted that international organization have mostly remained quiet on “the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across” Iraq.
Additionally, he said, celebrities or public figures have not spoken on the persecution, and he wondered “why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. wondered the same thing out loud, with a profoundly heavy heart. His closing remarks at the opening of the new Catholic University of America school year rattled everyone who heard it live and in its reverberations since he uttered his brief but deeply felt message last Thursday.
“Where are the voices?” he asked.
Today our solidarity with brothers and sisters of our faith and of other faiths in a part of the world where there is clearly an effort to eliminate them is something that we simply cannot in conscience ignore. Often we’re asked, “How is it possible that in human history atrocities occur?” They occur for two reasons. Because there are those prepared to commit them and there are those who remain silent. And the actions in Iraq and Syria today, what’s happening to women, children, men, their displacement – as the least of the things happening to them – is something that we really are not free to ignore and sometimes all we have to raise is our voice.
That’s quite profound, when you consider it. So is the rest of what he said.
I’m sharing these thoughts with you because I don’t want to have on my conscience that I was complicit in something as horrendous as this simply by being quiet. And I ask myself where are these voices? Where are the voices of parliaments and congresses? Where are the voices of campuses? Where are the voices of community leaders? Where are the voices of talk show hosts and radio programs? Where are the voices of the late night news? Where are the voices of editorial columns? Where are the voices of op-ed pieces? Why a silence? I think each one of us has at least the power to raise our voice and be in solidarity with people distant from us, unknown to us, not a part of this campus, not a part of this family, not a part of this university, not a part of our nation. But they are a part of our human community. I think it should rest on the conscience of each one of us. Atrocities happen because there are those who commit them and those who simply remain silent.