"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday, 21 April 2016


8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.
9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.
10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.
We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.
11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.
We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

my source: FrontPage
Mar 14, 2016 - This evening, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously that groups such as ISIS are committing genocide against Christians and ...

A review of the administration’s many anti-Christian biases.March 21, 2016  Raymond Ibrahim  17
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Update: Not long after the publication of this article media sources reported that, “The Islamic State is committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims in Iraq and Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry declared on Thursday [today]….  Kerry’s decision was welcomed by lawmakers and faith-based advocacy groups who have lobbied for months to ensure that Christians would be included among the genocide victims of the Islamic State.” Despite this welcomed news, a review of the Obama administration’s original rejection of the term “genocide” — conceding only now, days after the House of Representatives voted 393 to 0 on a resolution that does describe Christians as victims of genocide — as well as any number of previous administration biases against Christian minorities in the Islamic world are all chronicled in the following article and remain instructive.


According to the Obama administration, the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, etc.) is committing genocide against certain religious minority groups — excluding Christian minorities. During a February 29 press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked: "Is the Islamic State carrying out a campaign of genocide against Syria's Christians?" He replied:

Well, we have long expressed our concerns with the tendency of -- well, not a tendency -- a tactic employed by ISIL to slaughter religious minorities in Iraq and in Syria. You'll recall at the very beginning of the military campaign against ISIL that some of the first actions that were ordered by President Obama, by the United States military, were to protect Yazidi religious minorities that were essentially cornered on Mt. Sinjar by ISIL fighters. We took those strikes to clear a path so that those religious minorities could be rescued.

Due to the obvious equivocation — it is unclear how Obama's efforts "to protect Yazidi religious minorities" answers a question about persecuted Christians — the question was repeated: "But you're not prepared to use the word 'genocide' yet in the situation [regarding Christians]?"

Earnest's response:

My understanding is the use of that word involves a very specific legal determination that has at this point not been reached.

What is this "very specific legal determination" that encompasses Yazidis but excludes Christians? The Islamic State's treatment of Christians would certainly seem to fit under the UN's definition of "genocide":

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;...

ISIS is unquestionably guilty of "killing members of the [Christian] group" and causing them "serious bodily or mental harm." Although two separate videotaped mass executions (one of 21 Egyptian Christians and another of 30 Ethiopian Christians) were reported by the mainstream media, accounts of torture, rape, mutilation, crucifixion, and massacres of Christians are regularly reported on Arabic and alternate media.

The Islamic State has also been responsible for "deliberately inflicting on the group [Christians] conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." ISIS has placed these "conditions of life" — more literally known in Islamic doctrine as the "Conditions of Omar" — on Christians. They included a number of humiliations and debilitations — from the suppression of Christian worship to the extortion of money (jizya) — a "protection" tax designed to "encourage" Christians to convert to Islam or flee.

ISIS seems further committed to expunging all physical traces of Christianity in the areas it conquers. It has demolished dozens of ancient churches; at least 400 churches in Syria have been destroyed since the war, as well as countless statues and crucifixes. ISIS has also desecrated Christian cemeteries and ordered the University of Mosul to burn all books written by Christians and decreed that all schools in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain that bore Christian names (some since the 1700s) be changed.

Then there are the numbers. In Iraq, Christians, who totaled 1.4 million in 2003, are now down to about 300,000. In Syria, Christians, who totaled 1.25 million in 2011, are now down to about 500.000.

Finally, ISIS is on record saying that its eradication of Christians is due to their religious identity.

Due to all these clear indicators, many groups and rights activists believe that ISIS's treatment of Christians "fits the definition of ethnic cleansing," in the words of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial. A European Parliament resolution adopted in April 2015 states that 
"Christians are the most persecuted religious group. ... according to data the number of Christians killed every year is more than 150,000."

Most recently, on March 14, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution that pressures the Obama administration officially to declare the Islamic State’s bloodshed against religious minorities—including Christians—as "genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The resolution passed 393 to 0.

Even so, to those paying attention, the Obama administration's resistance to the word "genocide" where Christians are concerned fits a familiar pattern:

Although Obama repeatedly claimed when he was running for office that if elected president he would recognize the Armenian Genocide -- another instance when Muslims (Turks) sought to eradicate Christians (Armenians) -- he has failed to keep his word.
When asked about the plight of Christians under ISIS, Colonel Steve Warren said, "We've seen no specific evidence of a specific targeting toward Christians."
Although Christians number 10% of Syria's population, only 2% of refugees accepted into the U.S. from there are Christian. (The majority of refugees — almost 98% — are Sunni Muslims, the same sect to which ISIS belongs and thus are not persecuted for their religious identity.)
When inviting scores of Muslim representatives, the State Department has repeatedly denied visas to solitary Christian representatives.
When a few persecuted Iraqi Christians crossed the border into the U.S., they were thrown in prison for several months and then sent back to the war zone.
When persecuted Coptic Christians planned on joining Egypt's anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution of 2013, the Obama administration, in the person of Ambassador Anne Patterson, counseled them not to.
And when persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians asked for arms to join the opposition fighting ISIS, D.C. refused.

Why won’t the government recognise Isis atrocities as genocide? I have a hunch.
by Giles Fraser

Sawsan is a middle-aged Syrian woman from al-Hammidiya, which is just north of the Lebanese border. She describes how her nephew was crucified to death and a video of his crucifixion was put on the internet. He was crucified for wearing a cross. From the same town, Amin described how local girls were taken as sex slaves. Isis returned their body parts to the front door of their parents’ houses with a video tape of them being raped. Alice speaks of how hundreds of children were killed and their bodies ground down in the local baker’s shop in Doma.

These are some of the stories that are going to be told tonight at a meeting in Westminster, ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the House of Commons, when MPs will confirm or deny the recognition: “That this house believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls upon Her Majesty’s government to make an immediate referral to the United Nations security council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the international criminal court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

It may not be coincidence that Turkey is our new best friend, with whom we have struck a deal over returning refugees
A similar motion was recently passed unanimously in the US House of Representatives. Labour is supporting. So why – as things currently stand – is the government intent on whipping its members to oppose this motion, even though it is being put forward by a Conservative MP, Fiona Bruce? The devil is in the detail.

It’s not that the government is denying that Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities are suffering genocide in Iraq and Syria. Its official line is that it’s not for parliament to claim something counts as genocide but for the judiciary. And yes, genocide is a legal term, invented to describe the particular sort of horror that the Nazis perpetrated on the Jewish people – “a crime without a name” Churchill had previously called it. As Phillipe Sands observes in his forthcoming book about the origins of the term, it was first used by a Brit in court in Nuremburg in June 1946, almost exactly 70 years ago, by the Tory Sir David Maxwell Fyfe in his cross examination of Konstantin von Neurath, Hitler’s first foreign minister.

But the problem with this being simply a matter for the judiciary is that there currently exists no process for concerns about genocide to pass from parliament to the judiciary. As cross-bench peer Lord Alton put it to me: “Having no formal mechanism to refer evidence of genocide to the high court simply leads to government buck-passing and hand-wringing. They repeatedly say that determining whether a genocide is under way is a matter for the courts but then refuse to provide a trigger for a referral. Parliament – as Congress and the European parliament have done – needs to force the government’s hand. Otherwise we might as well rip up the genocide convention as a worthless piece of paper. If what is happening to groups like the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians doesn’t meet the high technical standard of what constitutes a genocide, it’s hard to imagine what would.”

 Isis is committing genocide. It is indefensible for Britain not to say soHelena Kennedy

But there may be more to it than a technical problem of process. For it may not be any coincidence that Turkey is our new best friend, with whom we have struck a deal over returning refugees from Greece. And Turkey is profoundly allergic to the “g” word, reminding people, as it often does, of Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian people in 1915, the first genocide of the 20th century. Not only that, but many of the threatened Yazidis, for example, are supported by the Kurds and Kurdish pashmerga who are seen as terrorists by the Turkish government. The suspicion is that our Foreign Office doesn’t want to upset the Turks with tomorrow’s vote and are thus encouraging the government to whip against it on a technicality.

We really ought to be braver than this. OK, I don’t suppose that those who are prepared to blow themselves up in the name of their twisted values are going to be all that terrified by the prospect of the international criminal court. But when religious minorities are set upon with such systematic ferocity and brutality, it is right and proper that our parliament calls it what it is. The government should withdraw its whip. It owes it to Sawsan, Amin and Alice – and to hundreds of thousands like them.

by Lord David Alton

See previous posts on Genocide:

Last night the House of Commons Voted by 278 votes to zero to declare that a genocide is underway against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq.

This is the first time that the House of Commons has ever declared a genocide while it is ongoing. By a unanimous vote it has insisted on a referral to the UN Security Council.

Sickened by the barbarism and brutality directed at Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, the House of Commons has spoken and the Government now needs to stop prevaricating, listen and act.

The Government also needs to address the absence of any formal mechanism to refer evidence of genocide to the Courts, which simply leads to  Government buck passing and hand wringing.

They  repeatedly say that determining whether a genocide is underway is a matter for the courts but  then refuse to provide a trigger for a referral.

Parliament - as Congress and the European Parliament have done - has had to force the Government's hand. Unless we accept our obligations to prevent, punish and protect, when a genocide occurs, we might just as well rip up the Genocide Convention as a worthless piece of paper.

If what is happening  to groups like the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians doesn't meet the high technical standard of what constitutes a genocide it's hard to imagine what would. The Government failed to address that question and MPs were right to assert parliament's will. To ignore this vote would amount to contempt of parliament.

The House of Commons voted 278 - 0:
  that this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Mar 14, 2016 - This evening, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously that groups such as ISIS are committing genocide against Christians and ...

The Guardian view on Christianity in the Middle East: the burden of the cross
In a region increasingly defined by religious division and war, some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are brutally exposed

Christians who fled violence in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul attend a mass in Irbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. Photograph: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty
 Christians who fled violence in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul attend a mass in Irbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. ‘More than a decade of war has seen the Christian people of Iraq driven from their homes.’ 
Thursday 24 March 2016 19.29 GMT Last modified on Friday 25 March 2016 02.23 GMT

Tomorrow, Good Friday, the long agony of the Christians of Iraq and Syria will continue. These countries have a far older Christian tradition than western Europe – it was to Damascus that Saint Paul was travelling when he was struck down and converted – but it really does seem as if it is now coming to an end. More than a decade of war has seen the Christian people of Iraq driven from their homes, sometimes three times, as the frontlines have passed over them, until a remnant has found shelter in Kurdistan. In Syria the Christian minorities were somewhat sheltered by the Assad regime, which means these communities have a degree of sympathy for it that is not shared by the western nations they look to as their other protectors. They, too, have been displaced in immense numbers.

In the territories controlled by Islamic State, the treatment of Christians, as of Yazidis, has been recognised as genocide by the US. It is Isis that destroyed the ancient communities around Nineveh, now Mosul, and Isis that has institutionalised the rape of captive women and children. In the rest of Syria and Iraq, the outbreaks of murderous hostility to Christians are much less organised, although both Sunni and Shia forces, when they are not slaughtering each other for their heresies, have proved capable of slaughtering Christians for their religions too. Nor should we forget the supposedly more moderate Sunni jihadis supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Any part of the world where crucifixion is deployed as a quasi-judicial punishment, even when mostly inflicted on corpses, is one from which Christians have very good reasons to flee.

Where should they go, and what should we do to help them? Neither question has an easy answer. The fantasy that western military intervention could ever produce a more secure and stable Middle East has been discredited since the invasion of Iraq. In the end, the conclusion of that crime and folly, as well as those of local actors, including the Assad regime, has been that Europe itself is less secure and stable, and the countries we supposedly liberated are a ghastly wasteland. But neither can we offer all of the refugees asylum here. That would likely be impractical politically, even if it were feasible in terms of resources. It doesn’t follow that the refugees have any moral duty to stay where they are. Still less should anyone in this country or in Europe lecture them to that effect. There is something rather unpleasant about the spectacle of Christian leaders, some of them from the churches and communities most affected, preaching from the safety of Europe about the duty of these communities to remain where they are so that the tradition of Christianity in those countries is not broken. People in danger will make their own decisions about where to go, and their choices must be respected.

Nonetheless, the hope must be that these people can return to their ancestral homes once peace comes. There is nowhere in the region that would be suitable for large-scale resettlement anyway. Even in those countries where there is no active and ongoing persecution, Christians are second-class citizens at best. Even in Iran, where there are guaranteed places for Christians in parliament, and a Christian is the captain of the national football team, there is no real concept of religious freedom and the legal penalty for converting to Christianity can be death. In Egypt things are slightly better since the fall of the regime, which had encouraged a great deal of violence against the ancient Christian communities there, but it can’t be easy for Christians to feel safe.

We have to hope that this will not be a permanent condition, and that the Christian minorities there will once more find an honoured place among their neighbours, as they have done for most of the past 2,000 years. In the meantime there is still a great deal that the west can accomplish, even if our powers are not miraculous. Although it would be counterproductive as well as wrong to discriminate in their favour when deciding which refugees to help, it is just as important to ensure that we do not go along passively with the discrimination that Christians do suffer even in refugee camps. The aid that we give must be sustained: the generous aid this government has given to refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan has done far more good than the scattering of bombs so noisily dropped on Isis. In the end, though, what the Christians of the Middle East need is the same as their Muslim neighbours, or anyone else – peace, justice and security. There may be very little that this government can do on the ground, but those should be the aims of our policy.



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