By Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO
US-LED BOMBING IN SYRIA
Rather than give our own commentary this week, we ask all to listen to the words of the patriarchs and our brother Christians in Syria. While the Russian collusion witch hunt continues to investigate "Russian meddling" in the U.S., the fathers of Syria's Christians demand that the U.S. military stop American meddling in Syria. Read the statement below:
A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic (Damascus, 14 April 2018)
God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!
We, the Patriarchs: John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France and the UK, under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:
- This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the UN Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
- It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.
- The allegations of the USA and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
- The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.
- This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
- This unjust aggression encourages the terrorist organizations and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism.
- We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars.
- We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression, to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel, and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
- We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people.
We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
GAUDATE ET EXSULTATE: Let us Rejoice and be Glad - Six takeaways from Pope's Exhortation on the feast of St Joseph, 2018. That was his five year anniversary as Pope.
1) The communion of saints reimagined: "The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us. Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance... in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”.
2) Salvation in community: "In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people."
3) Continuously Centered on God, Rooted in Baptism and the Holy Spirt, Be holy where you are! "Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain'"
4) The Devil is Real. Deliver us from the Evil One: "We will not admit the existence of the devil if we insist on regarding life by empirical standards alone, without a supernatural understanding. It is precisely the conviction that this malign power is present in our midst that enables us to understand how evil can at times have so much destructive force. in leaving us the Our Father, Jesus wanted us to conclude by asking the Father to “deliver us from evil”. That final word does not refer to evil in the abstract; a more exact translation would be “the evil one”. It indicates a personal being who assails us. Jesus taught us to ask daily for deliverance from him, lest his power prevail over us." "...Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea."
5) To be Holy is to be with God - Pray Always and Everywhere: "Finally, though it may seem obvious, we should remember that holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration. The saints are distinguished by a spirit of prayer and a need for communion with God."
6) Scripture and the Eucharist: "Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives."
II. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION
DAWSON ON EUROPE: “It is difficult to exaggerate the horror and confusion of the Dark Age that followed the collapse of the Carolingian experiment,” Dawson summarizes. “The one principle of the new society was the law of force and the need for protection. Personal freedom was no longer a privilege, for the man without a lord was a man without a protector.” That is still true - break down protection and life is lost. A culture of life is a culture of protection. A real civilization of life does not begin by asserting "the right to life." We begin with gratitude to the Source of all life and then swear to to protect our section of the garden.
THE POPE WAS LIED TO. HE APOLOGIZES FOR HIS FAILURE "IN PERCEPTION AND JUDGMENT" IN CHILE. HE NEEDS MUCH TOUGHER AND MORE TRUTHFUL ADVISORS: There are many grievous instances of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI being misled about scandal often very close to them. What has happened here with Pope Francis and the Chilean Bishop Juan Barros Madrid is extraordinary. What is different here is the clarity of the personal apology by the Pope. He did not apologize for the Church but for his own failure. His quick dispatch of a serious investigator (Archbishop Scicluna) corrected him after judging the local situation. May the Pope and bishops around the world find an Elliott Ness (or Charles Scicluna) and seriously go after the bad guys. They are legion. Raymond De Souza explains at National Catholic Register about one papal advisor who failed the Pope:
"Much closer to home, the Holy Father will have to consider the position of Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz on the “council of cardinals,” the group of his closest advisers. Cardinal Errázuriz was chosen for the council in 2013, when he was already retired and almost 80 years old. Now 84, he spends several days with Pope Francis every few months when the council meets. It is impossible that he did not advise Pope Francis on Barros. Even more, he was the archbishop when the Father Karadima scandal first came to light and has already admitted that he dismissed the victims. All that was known in 2013 when Pope Francis chose him for the council. Now it will be very hard to explain his continuing presence. Even more, it raises the question of how well the council is serving the Pope if Cardinal Errázuriz failed him in such a grave matter."WHILE RAYMOND BURKE MAKES THE ROUNDS CRITICIZING POPE FRANCIS, THE ARCHBISHOP OF GUAM HE WAS ASSIGNED TO JUDGE GETS A PRETTY GOOD DEAL: From the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, April 16: The tribunal, which is composed of five judges appointed by the Prefect of the Congregation, “has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam.” He retains his clerical office and monetary support. It is not clear for which crimes he has been found guilty. Apuron has been credibly accused of multiple charges of sodomy against teen age males. His "penalty" of early retirement was already imposed before the "Court" came. Leaving Guam may protect him from the local police who will probably be harsher than Cardinal Burke and his fellow judges. Cardinal Ray Burke is no hanging judge in clerical sodomy cases. Apparently Aprun will suffer no restrictions in his priestly role offering the Holy Mass. This seems a horrific desecration much worse than the dubious Dubia by which Cardinal Burke postures as a protector of the sacred.
SENATOR CORY BOOKER GRILLS MIKE POMPEO ABOUT THE PERVERSION OF GAY MARRIAGE: The imperialism of gender ideology and imposition of abortion and sodomy as human rights was a major tenet of international relations in the Obama administration. The American bishops have not caught up with the Pope yet in highlighting the injustice and confusion of these policies. Cory Booker a Senator from Maryland and presidential hopeful was aggressive in his demands that any new Secretary of State enforce the new imperialism. Opposition to this arrogance remains all too muted.
III. NATIONS AND POLITICS R&G ROUND UP
TRUMP AS SAMSON: The Syrian dilemma and the globalist war party surrounding the President.
TRUMP AND WAR IN SYRIA: Buchanan reminds us why the Shiites are fighting in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Don't they get their nations, too? He thinks Trump is being captured by the War Party.
IRVING BABBITT AND THE ATHEISM OF INTELLECTUALS: Brad Birzer takes University intellectuals way too seriously and the reality of God not enough. A major problem in the American conservative movement is how many atheists were considered leading lights. The real "court of reputation" was university faculty culture. American universities and "intellectuals" turned against God way before the sixties. Irving Babbitt's "respectable atheism" was a luxury most men and cultures cannot afford.
VICTOR ORBAN - EUROPE'S MOST IMPORTANT LEADER WINS BIG IN HUNGARY: His "state of the nation" 2016 and Christmas address 2017. His electoral victory in April 2018.
AMERICA AND THE DESTINY OF ISRAEL. ZIONISTS BEFORE ZIONISM: From an excellent First Things article on Theology and American Foreign Policy: In 1891, William E. Blackstone presented to President Benjamin Harrison a petition titled “Palestine for the Jews.” A Chicago businessman and the author of Jesus Is Coming, one of the bestselling books of the nineteenth century, Blackstone believed that Scripture predicted the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The role of the United States was to follow in the footsteps of Cyrus, king of Persia, and help the Jews reclaim their birthright. “What shall be done for the Russian Jews?” the petition asks. “Why not give Palestine back to them again? According to God’s distribution of nations, it is their home, an inalienable possession, from which they were expelled by force.”
ISRAEL, RUSSIA, AND TURKEY AT ODDS OVER SYRIA: The Israel foreign policy of demonizing Iran as Syria and Lebanon establish more effective military control over their countries is not sustainable. Here is a very good pro-Israel writer explaining the growing dilemma. Those of us who favor a strong territorially defensible Israel must acknowledge the same claims to national sovereignty of Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iran. A truly nationalist foreign policy hasn't sunk in yet.