Massacres carried out in cold blood - be they intelligence-aided false flag terrorist attacks or genuine terrorist outrages now are becoming so frequent that not only would it become even more difficult to distinguish between the two, but they are occurring with such terrifying frequency that each incident could easily be forgotten by the following month or perhaps week. However, let not the Church of Christ forget Fr Jacques Hamel! Martyr of Christ!
In such an age, when evil runs rampant, unfurling its banner of triumph, do we live. One really does wonder whether we shall have the capacity within another year to be shocked at all. Men and women burned alive in cages. Shorelines draped in the cloak of Coptic blood. The list is endless and there is no end in sight. The barbaric nature of the murders we have seen recently is of such a magnitude that most of us simply cannot begin to fathom it. Quite honestly, what can you say when a man walks into a Church where an 84-year-old is celebrating Mass and slits his throat at the Altar of God, or when a man turns on the ignition of a truck and proceeds to mow down people as if they were grass? This is insanity.
|Fr Jacques Hamel's martyrdom is reminiscent of the Atlas Martyrs|
The slaughtering of a peaceful man for no comprehensible reason whatsoever does not usually polarise debate. In Brighton, it is not unheard of for a drug addict to be found stabbed to death on the street or for a homeless man to be set on fire in his sleeping bag or in London for gang-related violence to claim the life of a teenager. In the face of such destructive evil, most of us give up on trying to understand motives, but few would have trouble at least identifying some discernible root cause that may, in fact, not be the ultimate cause of the evil committed but a strong contributory factor, even if the act of killing is senseless.
When it comes to Islamic violence - and there is plenty of it documented across the world, we have an even greater problem in perceiving the motive because it is alien to what we understand from the point of view of reason. Most reasonable people can even sympathise with Pope Francis's reticence to link Islam with violence because few want to identify a whole religion and people with evil. To do so has implications for a great many, perhaps even to the safety of many. It is widely known that his response to Benedict XVI's famous Regensberg Address was unfavourable to say the least. 'This will set us back 20 years!' are the words attributed to the then Cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires when he heard news of the speech.
|Can't we just all be Masons and get along?|
Islam is de facto opposed to Jesus Christ because it does not propose Him to be both God and Man
The problem is that even a 'correct' interpretation of Islam - a moderated Islam - because of its varied forms - found in one place may never be truly discovered. The most enlightened Islam does not contain the seeds of Eternal Life. Let us imagine that, in time, perhaps, Islam itself might reform itself. Islamic scholars from around the world may join in unison to denounce all forms of terror and warfare, all forms of violent Jihad and adopt a universal blueprint of 'humane' Islam that constitutes what most people would regard as a religion that is entirely peaceful. Let us imagine a scenario, indeed, in which all the major religions combined to form a new humanistic - some might say Masonic - approach to religious divisions, fostering peace and concord around the whole world, in every community, with the extremist elements so neutralised as to be rendered ineffective and harmless to citizens of a new world order. Might this solve some of Islam's problems? Pope Francis might say 'Yes, what a wonderful world that would be'. This Catholic would, however, say 'No'. Why? Let us hear what the assailant said to a nun, speaking of Our Lord Jesus Christ before he was shot dead, a young life wasted at the age of 19...
"Jesus cannot be God and a man. It is you who are wrong."
Yes. As if to mirror Pope Francis's call to dialogue with other religions, before his death at the hands of law enforcement agencies, the young Islamic terrorist provided not just Pope Francis but the whole World with an exemplary exposition of the Muslim religion, formed, as it was, centuries after the first coming in the flesh of Our Lord and Saviour. His actions following this exegesis of Islam and one of its central positions on the nature of God can be interpreted according to as many sociological explanations as is deemed necessary. One thing, however, cannot be ignored, and that is that this man was most definitely in dialogue with a nun on the issues of God and religion, elaborating on the true Islamic position on Christ right up to the point that he committed murder in cold blood.
Indeed, since Her very founding by the Only Begotten Son of God, the Church has sailed in every age persecuted for this very reason. We do indeed believe that Jesus not only can be, but is, God and man. It is the Muslims, but not only the Muslims who are wrong. On this matter, the Jews are also wrong. The Hindus are also wrong. The Buddhists are also wrong. Atheists are wrong. This is what divides those who are Christians - who are for Christ, and those who are do not believe in Him, who St John tells us are Antichrist. And it is certainly this essential premise that even divides the Catholic Church today, informs the liturgical war, divides Catholics on moral issues, categorises those who side with Christ on divorce and remarriage and those who stand vehemently against Him. Yes, it is simply this.
Like the Pope, I too have sympathy with Muslims. They believe in one God. So I too believe in one God. They do believe in brotherhood and helping the poor. So do I. They even believe that after death comes judgement. So do I. They believe God is merciful. So do I. They believe in Paradise. So do I. They believe in Hell. So do I. But, the great error of Islam is the great error of the vast majority of the World and great swathes of even the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. That singular denial of God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the cause of so much pain and suffering in the world. It is Pope Francis's role, not to simply ameliorate tensions between Christians and Muslims, nor simply to dialogue about what is shared between the two Faiths, but also to enlighten Muslims that Christ is for all men and for them and that no man shall see God without Him.
Because they do not believe that Jesus is Lord, that which is good in Islam, just like that which is good in Judaism and Hinduism, that which is good in so many religions, is rendered not null, but incomplete and ultimately, in error. Error leads to death. This denial leads into many other serious errors which have grave consequences for the eternal fate of souls who believe errors and the temporal state, security and safety of the peoples of the world. Can Christians do wrong things? Yes. Can Christians murder? Yes. Can Christians commit these deeds and claim their religion informs that choice? They can, but they, too, are in error.
Who are we to say that behind even religiously motivated killing does not lurk something much more mysterious, something more private, a mysterious love of death, an interior glorifying of evil, or a misguided vision of heroism nurtured and incubated by fanatical preachers, a longing to become famous or infamous, noticed or even celebrated by some?
Yes, the reasons for this man's choice might be much deeper than a selective fidelity to an Islamic text, but let none doubt that a truth, passionately held, can, guided and nurtured by Christ, become a force for such ardent charity that can change men and women's lives so much for the better. We see this in the life - and witness - of Fr Jacques. Let all men know too that an error, passionately held, can bring ruin and carnage to the streets and Churches of Europe, and an error, passionately held, can bring about the ruin, yes of any Catholic layman, any priest, any Bishop and, yes, any Pope. This error, deprived of the light of Christ, leads to spiritual death. Propagated, it takes in many victims. It will, undoubtedly, create many more to come. If every time the Pope is asked to speak of Islamic violence, he feels he must speak of Catholic violence, astonishingly, in the same breath, we are guaranteed that we shall be hearing about Catholic violence a lot from Pope Francis. Perhaps every week.
A life of humble service at the Altar of God, a death and the palm of martyrdom at the same. Would it be too much for the whole Church now to recognise the sacrificial nature of the Mass when a priest has shown it to us so vividly? Will the Church turn away from what Fr Jacques's death really tells us about the Priest and Victim united at the Altar in persona Christi? Perhaps this is a fact of his killing too subtle for some to notice.