The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

al-Qaeda Threatens Copts

The growing antipathy toward Christians in much of the Muslim world has taken a new twist. The leading jihadist terrorist group, al-Qaeda, has published the names, addresses and telephone numbers of 100 Egyptian-Canadian Coptic Christians it claims are responsible for encouraging Muslims to convert to Christianity. Calling those named the "dogs of diaspora" an al-Qaeda website threatens to "cut off their heads."

Such threats should not be taken lightly, particularly after a team of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda slaughtered dozens of Catholics in a Baghdad church a few weeks ago. Since then al-Qaeda has labeled Christians as "legitimate targets" and encouraged its supporters to kill them.

All of this, plus the seeming growing support among Muslims for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, makes one wonder exactly where the majority of Muslims stand. And even if a majority reject terror, would that really make very much difference? I suspect not.

Is Islam a religion of peace?

Or is it something else entirely?

These seem to be questions only Muslims can answer for the rest of the world. I believe I can safely say that we Christians will never cease our peaceful evangelistic efforts, even among Muslims. To do so would be a rejection of the great commission Jesus gave us: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." [Mt 28:19-20] It would seem, then, we are faced with what appears to be an inevitable conflict, certainly one that cannot be resolved by human means. Recent history seems to bear this out, as one peace effort after another crumbles under the weight of hatred.

I'm reminded of the prayer Pope Benedict prayed at Ground Zero during his visit to New York in 2008:
O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here — the heroic first-responders: our firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001.
We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope. We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering. God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.
Here we encounter the Holy Father praying for the conversion of those who would carry out such horrendous acts of terror. Perhaps we should all make this our prayer as well.

God's peace...

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