Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

People, Look East

"People, Look East" is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

It is also a good clarion call to the Church in the West.  We are complacent, and we have problems: complacency, corroded morale, secularism on the warpath against anything remotely healthy or humane, and so on.  But we are not being murdered in the streets.  For most of us in the West, the Apostle's words still apply: "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood," (Heb 12:4).

That is not the case in the East.  The Chinese and Vietnamese governments have certainly been violently opposed to and contrived all manners of repressing the irrepressible growth of the Church in East Asia.  It is a little considered fact, though, that in what was perhaps his only remotely endearing quality, Saddam Hussein insisted on a peace that permitted the Church to continue in the region called Iraq, where she has existed since apostolic times, or shortly thereafter.  My studies in ancient Syriac (Suraya, in its own language) focused on literature from that region: from that region comes the earliest translation of the Bible.  At the time, it was called Chaldea (Kal-dee-ah), and from that name the Christians of the region derive theirs, although they call themselves Suraya.  The were more or less absorbed into the Nestorian heresy, but that heresy had more or less dwindled over a thousand years or so, and since 1553 they have been (back) in union with the Catholic Church.  It was these Chaldean Catholics that continued on in Iraq.  Under Saddam Hussein, one of them was even a foreign minister.

It is not so anymore.  With a sort of forced secularism removed from society, the sectarian violence that has engaged Sunni against Shiite has also engulfed the much smaller Chaldean community.  These people are our brothers and sisters in Christ, united in one Baptism, one Faith, one Church, sharing with us the Pope as supreme pastor on Earth.  And they are being tortured and murdered to death in the streets, their bishops assassinated in public, and their churches torched and razed.  Their attackers do these things with complete impunity.

For more information about the Chaldean Catholics, check out the Wikipedia articles - they are probably reasonably kinda accurate-ish.

They have their own website / newsource / blog.  Check it out, too, by clicking here if you have a few free minutes.  We can at least pray for our brothers.  We can try to find concrete ways to encourage them.  Perhaps we can find someway to get our godless government to pressure their corrupt government to stop its people from killing our people... er, I mean, its own people.


Anonymous said...

I live in the Greater Detroit area, a very diverse population, and home to a large Chaldean community. The information to which you refer is correct, the situation is grim.

When you say, "our godless government" I am not sure what you mean, but however you mean it, I for one am grateful that the US government does not espouse any particular religious group. As a Christian, I dislike alot of what the government does, but as a Catholic, I also recognize that my hope for the future does not come from any governmental body past, present or future. You might have read my post on that. I agree with then Cardinal Ratzinger that there is a real danger in succumbing to the temptation to cure all societal ills through governments.

The only nation that works as an arm of a religion is Vatican City...and not as often as you would hope.



Thy Handmaid's son said...

Ah, LuceMichael,

Godless government... I do not mean that I want a confessional or even a religious government. I certainly do not mean that I want one which will try to solve all problems. Any of those scenarios would be catastrophic.

What I suppose I want is a godly government, the opposite of godless. By that I do not mean saintly (which would be unlikely) or confessional (which would be undesirable even for members of the established confession). What I mean is a government that recognizes the simple fact of God in all his implications.

The founders of this nation were not terribly religious men, by and large, but they did recognize that a republic requires citizens of virtue, and virtue is acquired by religion and by recognition of a transcendent power to whom a grateful response and attempt at obedience are owed. That's all.

Instead, we have a government... largely because we have a citizenry that demands no more, no less... that exploits foreigners and their resources for our benefit, and that entices their leaders to collude with ours in this process. This generates, I expect, 9/10 of the anti-American sentiment in the world. In order to supply our nation with a comfortable lifestyle, our leaders convince (or simply act without consulting) us that trade relations are a good thing - even with the most brutal regimes in human history. In 2005, the NYT reported that the Chinese government had announced the number of domestic deaths due to civil unrest was DOWN to 35,000+ people. Can you imagine if the town Annapolis, Maryland (capital of my fair state, population about 37,000) were annihilated by US soldiers? Yet that was a good year for China. A peaceful, contented year.

And we do business with them.

That is godless, and it doesn't take a Roman Catholic, or a Pentecostal, or a Hasidic Jew, much less the pope, to see how wicked it is to care so little.

I am not sure what the solution is, other than the conversion of hearts and minds to Jesus Christ... but this is not it.

Anonymous said...

The blind eye to China is a huge mystery to me. I have no idea why we keep supporting governments and regimes who have so little in common with our own historic values anyway, then you have China which is the definition of a human rights abusing government. It's a mystery.

well, I think the problem is the 'citizens of virtue' part, Ryan. Again, I'm not sure how moral a government can be, though it can certainly avoid IMmorality.

Unfortunately, undereducated and intentionally uninformed populace has no interest in learning the issues, let alone demanding accountability.

You are exactly right. Only through a conversion of hearts and mind to Christ Jesus can we begin moving toward a more just society and government.

I'm going to go pray for that right now!