The Cross in Torment

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While Tariq Ramadan is hectoring Americans about “Islamophobia,” calling Muslims the new “blacks” in America, a synod is currently underway in the Vatican to save Christian communities in the Middle East’s Islamic countries from extinction. The flight of the region’s Christians to the West from the area where Christianity was born has reached such alarming proportions, Pope Benedict XVI gathered 285 delegates in Rome last Monday to investigate the phenomenon.

In his homily in St. Peter’s Cathedral to open the two-week synod, the Catholic pontiff called upon the delegates to scrutinize the situation with a “view to God” to ensure the region’s Christians can escape “discouragement” and “the temptation to flee.” The pope also indicated that the heart of problem lies in the threat Middle Eastern Christians face from Islamic radicalism, calling it, along with the international drug trade, “terroristic ideologies.

“Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God; but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked,” he said.

Among the synod’s delegates are 185 representatives from ten Middle Eastern countries (Turkey, Syria, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Egypt) including nine patriarchs from the Middle East’s ancient Christian churches. It was in Cyprus last June that the pope announced this week’s ‘Synod on the Middle East’. After a mass, the pontiff distributed its working paper, the Instrumentum Laboris, to members of the Special Council of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

While in Cyprus, the leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics said the October synod will “try to deepen” the ties between the region’s churches and promote the solidarity of Christians everywhere with those in the Middle East. The synod’s other purpose, the pontiff said, would be to draw the world’s attention to Middle Eastern Christians who “suffer great trials due to the present situation.

“This is an opportunity to highlight the significant value of the Christian presence and witness in the countries of the Bible, not only for the Christian community worldwide, but also for your neighbors and fellow citizens,” he said in June.

Those “great trials” the Middle East’s Christians are enduring have been well documented. In Iraq, for example, the Islamists are cleansing the country through violence of all Christians similar to what the Nazis once did to make Germany “Judenrein.” In 1980, Catholics made up almost three percent of Iraq’s population, but only formed .89 percent two years ago.

A study by Phillipe Fargue, “The Arab Christians in the Middle East: A Demographic Perspective”, cited in Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, states that the Christian population in the Middle East has gone from 26.4 percent of the area’s population in 1914 to at most 9.2 percent in 2005. An Egyptian newspaper, referring to Vatican statistics, recently put the current Christian representation for the entire region at a dismal 5.62 percent.

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  • Triple_AAA

    I'm more worried about the loss of Christianity in Europe and even the US, where they are incessantly under attack by Secularism as well as by Islam.

    • CAROLE63

      Yes, you`re dead right, there is going to be a special day that christians have organized for Dec 1st when all christians can stand up and say they`re not ashamed to believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Go to the website: www. notashamed. org for details of T-shirts, badges etc. to purchase and also details of support information.

  • badaboo

    well you should be "more worried " about christianity in Pakistan , Nigeria , Egypt , Iraq , Indonesia ,and Turkey, where chuches are burned , where churches are not allowed to be built or repaired , where christians are killed , persecuted , raped , kidnapped , and forced to convert . The worst that europe has seen to date , nor the US will ever see , does not even remotely come close to what is happewning in the places i've mentioned '

    • tagalog

      The sanctions you mention are sanctions that go with dhimmitude, and have been part of the Muslim treatment of non-Muslims for the past 1400 years. Other sanctions that Muslims have imposed on non-Muslims who are unfortunate enough to live under Muslim-controlled societies: churches may not ring their bells, public celebrations of non-Muslim religious activities not permitted, non-Muslims not permitted to live in buildings that are taller than neighboring buildings lived in by Muslims, non-Muslims must step off the sidewalk when a Muslim passes by, if a Muslim insults a non-Muslim or strikes a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim can't strike back, non-Muslims not permitted to testify in court against a Muslim, many other restrictions for dhimmis.

    • Triple_AAA

      Self preservation is a stronger instinct than that of pity..

    • CAROLE63

      It is shocking what is happening to christians around the world as you mention!
      It is also shocking that the mainstream media is quiet about these atrocities in the main. If they do mention something they play it down so no-one really understands the gravity of the situation! I get information from `OPEN DOORS`, `CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLWIDE`, BARNABUS FUND to name a few organisations that try to support and help the victims.

    • Jacobite

      American Christians are already under constant attack from the ACLU (you can fill in the blank there). The last time Christians moved to protect their Christian co-religionists in the Mohammedan lands was known as "The Crusades". Wonder why the rag-heads still rant and rave about them? They're scared sh*tless that we're comming back. I don't see a lot of danger of that. Clinton and Wesley Clark attacked our Christian brothers and defended our blood-enemies, the Mohammedans, in Bosnia and Kosovo. Not just cowardly, but perverse and stupid. The Mohammedans around the world must still be scratching their heads over that one (and lice).

      • Beth

        Jacobite……"Clinton and Wesley Clark attacked our Christian brothers and defended our blood-enemies, the Mohammedans, in Bosnia and Kosovo"

        It has always been shocking to me (and still is) to see the magnitude of ignorance that exists among the people when it comes to that fact you mentioned. The 'media giants' (as i call them) suceeded in mis-leading the masses on the truth of the things that took place there. Clinton (who has streets names after him in Albania) and Clark, both, have Christian blood on their hands.

  • waterwillows

    It is really awful what is happening to the Christians in muslims lands. Vicious would be too kind to describe it.
    And of course our looney left media has got nothing to say about real, ongoing suffering. They can't lift their brain out of the toliet long enough to bother with Christians. Unless of course someone should burn a book and they go into automatic hissy fit.

    • vladdyjen

      not just ANY book….

  • loseyateefa

    We can never expect a liberal ungodly media to teach us truth or shed light on the horrors of evil unleashed by Islam. Its best if you read the headlines with one eye and the Bible with the other. Things will get worse for both Israel and Christians before the fight to end it all occurs. Knowing who ultimately wins is like being able to gamble on a fixed horse race. Islam is the Kingdom of the Beast, the false prophet(12th Imam) and the Anti-Christ (satan in the flesh). Look what Jesus on the white horse does to them:
    Revelation 19:19 —20:3 19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
    Revelation 20
    The Thousand Years
    1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

  • Johanne

    I sometimes wonder what happened to Lebanon. Some of the nicest, most reliable and well-educated people I have met have had Lebanese backgrounds, I considered Lebanon to be sort of western maybe with the addition of some particular mafioso gangs, but still, a reasonable country, that would come out on this side of war establishing itself among other civilized nations.
    Instead they choose to be yet another a tyrannical, islamist hell on earth nation where everybody else flees from.

    Maybe this flight of their minority populations has cost them the ultimate price: they will never become a civilized country without them. Once they have left, they will never come back, and the era of western sponsoring of these nations are coming to a halt. Soon, I fear, they will decent into complete poverty. They should have treated their minorities decently – they lost their vehicle for development.

    Though the west truly have abandoned the Middle east Christians, still, one reason for caring about these countries at all has been that they had Christians (and before that Jews) as 'hostages' – once they are gone, guess how little we will care.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Soon, I fear, they will decent into complete poverty.

      Actually, isolating and rendering Dar al Islam into abject poverty is the solution. It’s either we render them too weak and poor to wage jihad, or otherwise we will have to defend against jihad perpetually forever.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    The persecution of Christians in Darul Islam and the gradual emptying of Christian populations there have profound implications for the future of planet earth. As the West sinks ever further into its celebrated diversity and continues to subsume its identity to the gods of multiculturalism, the opposite is occurring in the Muslim world, where the centripetal forces unleashed by religious intolerance are perpetuating and strengthening a veritable monoculture.

    This issue is profoundly important on a number of levels. If we face the demographic music, we see that the future of Darul Islam is Europe's future….and perhaps that of all of mankind (if we look far enough ahead). Our generation has a great responsibility to do everything in our power to loosen the grip of Islamic totalitarianism over the Muslim mind. This is one reason our obsequious validation of Islam as a "religion of peace" is so criminal and counter-productive; we are fortifying an ideology whose doctrinal imperative to conquer us is ignored, soft-peddled, or denied altogether.

    One short-term strategy that could be employed is to hold CAIR, ISNA, MAC and other Muslim-advocacy groups in the West accountable for the unconscionable persecution of non-Muslims in the Muslim realm. Every time these groups cry discrimination here at home, every time they proclaim Islam a tolerant faith, we should burden them with explaining why such a tolerant faith is so intolerant in practice…and then cite the litany of church burnings, legalized discrimination, the violence of the Muslim mob, etc, occurring daily around the globe.

    Doing so will have two potential salutary benefits. It may compel Muslims to start taking responsibility for their behavior and in the process, create incentives for behavior modification that our current policy of validation negates. Failing that, it might at least reveal to gullible non-Muslims in the West the utter hypocrisy of the Muslim victim mentality…and the ingrained propensity of Muslims, going all the way back to the "Prophet" Muhammad – to deflect onto others the responsibility for their own actions.

    • tagalog

      For what it's worth, there have been other times in history when it appeared that Islam was going to conquer the Western world. During Islam's first 200 years of existence, they took Christian lands in the Middle East and in North Africa, and whittled the Byzantine Empire down to a shadow of its earlier days. A few hundred years later, they took Hungary and almost took Vienna. A few hundred years earlier, they got into central France. They wiped out the Christian churches (with a few exceptions) in Africa and the Middle East, leaving only Europe as the heartland of Christianity. But they were beaten back each time, and now we have a Christian American and South America to resist. So there's some hope of successfully resisting the latest surge of Islamic imperialism.

      • Chezwick_Mac

        Thanks for the input.

        The difference between the historic challenge to Europe posed by Islam and today's is that unlike battlefield setbacks that can be reversed, demographic conquest is permanent. Barring a mass expulsion of medieval proportions (very unlikely), Western Europe and Russia will see Muslim majorities sometime later this century. Even India is going down this road, caught in the demographic pincer of Indian-Muslim fertility and rising illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

        You're right about the Americas….we certainly have much more time than Europe. What will we do with our geographic good fortune? Will we engage in a robust civilizational defense, or squander the gift of time by abdicating our responsibilities via appeasement?

        Judging by the prevailing culture…and the indoctrination that masquerades as education in the humanities dept's of our universities today, I think a healthy skepticism about our future prospects would be prudent.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Instead of trying to stave off emigration of Christians from the Muhammadan Middle East, the Pope should be trying to facilitate their removal to protect them, and instead of vilifying and demonizing the Jews in Israel, the Pope should be embracing Israel for its pluralistic society and freedoms, including the freedom of religion at the same time it excoriates the Islamic world for its totalitarianism and persecution of all other religions. It should also be advocating that Israel not give up Jerusalem and Bethlehem to the so-called Palestinians.

    • tagalog

      In my opinion, we should encourage missions to Islamic nations to try to convert the people. The Christian believers are not entirely gone, but they're fragmented. Once Christianity in lands now considered Muslim was widespread, and that was the case even as recently as 1900. So it's not impossible to win lands that are now Islamic back to Christianity.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        A couple of things are wrong with your opinion: any Christian missions in Dar al Islam trying to convert Muhammadans will inevitably be destroyed. Second, Christianity has never conquered land in the name of Christianity, and I don’t think that it should since Christianity is a family of religions devoted to Christ as opposed to Islam, which isn’t a religion at all but instead a militant theo-political totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion for the purpose of infiltrating the societies it intends do subjugate and subsume.

        In addition, not only was Christianity once widespread in the Mediterranean Middle East, it was the cradle of Christianity until it was conquered by Islam almost 1400 years ago. Since, then the Christians and Jews have been subjugated dhimmis, which has led to their conversion to Islam or to their fleeing their former homes.

        • tagalog

          I guess I would agree on the issue of Christianity conquering lands in the name of Christianity, something you quite correctly point out has never been done. So on that point, a morally pure adherence to Christianity would call for not doing that.

          As for your other point, that Christian conversion would be vigorously suppressed by Islam in nations that were formerly Christian strongholds but are now perceived as Muslim, there are examples of Christians holding their own against Islamic oppression, as in the Egyptian Copts, the Sudanese Christians, the Christians of Armenia. There are others, but those are the ones whose ability to survive come most readily to mind. I think that Christian missions to Islamic areas might be successful. But I agree with you that if it were accomplished, it would be in the face of widespread, aggressive, and brutal Islamic suppression. I think that the world we are living now is much too visible for the Muslims to operate without being seen for what they are, imperialism with an internationalist message posing as a religion.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            Egyptian Copts and the Sudanese Christians are severely persecuted and often violently oppressed when not outright slaughtered. The Christians of Armenia, on the other hand, aren’t likewise persecuted and oppressed because Christianity is the predominate religion of Armenia.

            Nevertheless, proselytizing is illegal in all Islamic countries, as apostasy is punished under the pain of death. Thus, again establishing Christian missions in the Islamic world would not only be suicidal, it would be an exercise in futility.

          • Arius

            And note that we Armenians didn't sit on our hands when the Muslim Azeris were mass murdering Armenians in Baku – Armenia and Armenians worldwide united like one fist and sliced and diced the Azeri army. We could have taken Baku, if we wanted to.

        • aspacia

          The Crusades were done in the name of Christianity.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            The Crusades were a product of Roman Catholicism. In any event, the Crusades were a long delayed response to almost 500 years of Islamic conquest in which two-thirds of Christendom and the cradle of Christianity had been conquered by Muhammadans. However, the Crusades, like the Spanish Inquisition, are events deliberately presented completely out of context by secular historians in order to vilify and demonize Christianity, while at the same time that the history of Islam and Muhammadans was completely whitewashed and sugarcoated. Sounds like it worked.

  • MMS

    The news outof Egypt these days is pretty alarming. The situation that the Coptic Church is facing with all of these crazy allegations and al-Azhar's statement that Egypt is an Islamic state have really put everyone so on edge that has noted a possibility of war breaking out. It's not a good sign if Egypt is in this place. Be sure to read up on it.

  • sharpsrifle

    Israel should have annexed Gaza, Judea and Samaria DECADES AGO! The sheer brutality of the mohammedans should alarm all Christians, Jews and those of other religions to action…but political correctness ('religion of peace") and the failure to speak the true nature of the enemy (islam) is what dooms civilization to potentially falling before these barbarians (and the Huns, Goths, Fraks, Celts and Gauls were FAR more civilized than the mohammedans).

    As for Pope Benedict doing what he is able to do to help the persecuted in mohammedan lands: Gott segnen unseren Panzerpapst! (I hope my German isn't that bad from lack of use)

    • Arius

      The problem is that the West is post Christian and self destructive and thinks it can buy peace by calling Islam a 'religion of peace'. Islam is just the opposite, the religious totalitarianism of the pedophile prophet of mass murder.

  • BUTSeriously

    The Vat is guilty of unGdly silence of Blood Libels and The Protocols of Zion openly displayed throughout Islamic states. But hese heinous falsehoods, which took the lives of 1000's of innocent folk – came from the Pope's backyard: who is the Vatican expecting to clean up the midew – the UN Madarassa? Honest Christians must rise up against such silence – if they really hold the truth setting them free.

    Such silence is evil, and it backfires. Now the Muslims openly deny the Jerusalem Temple, calling it a myth: there goes the Gospels, which claims one Jew visited this temple. Don't you see how silence to evil gets no free bonus salvation?

  • BUTSeriously

    The Coptics predate the Arabs and are the real owners of that land. The regimes set up by Britain should be overturned, mosques in non-Islamic lands must be subject to equal reciprocity in Muslim states. Israel is a true light unto the nations – whether they see this light or not is their problem.

  • william

    The term Arab Christians used by Stephen Brown in this article is a term invented by the Arab nationalists as way of cultural ethnic cleansing process, to impose Arab identity on non Arabs living in Arab countries. Christianity in the Middle East began long before the 7th century Arab conquest of the region. Those who became Christians in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt were predominantly non-Arab heirs of the ancient civilizations, They predominately spoke the Syriac Language and not Arabic. It is true that some Arab tribes had settled in these regions and converted to Christianity before the Arab conquest but by all accounts with few exceptions they converted to Islam or were forced to convert to Islam after the arrival of the Muslim Arabs, because Islam was initially planned to be the religion of Arabs. It is a fact that apostasy from Islam has been always punishable by death therefore there could not have been mass conversion of Muslims into Christianity during the last 14 century, therefore the term "Arab Christians" or "Christian Arabs" is totally inappropriate. Though most Christians in Arab countries speak Arabic but that has been necessary for them to avoid persecution.

  • Armando

    What I don't understand is how some Christian bishops in the "palestinian" areas actually support the palestinian narrative.

  • Wesley69

    Armenians, the Jewish Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur: all examples of genocides. Across the Muslim world, genocide is being waged against Christians.

    In Iraq, 2006, a 14 year old Assyrian boy was crucified by Islamists. Recently, near Jakarta, Indonesian Protestants lost their church to an Islamic attack. In Egypt, a Christian was set on fire by a Muslim man on a rumor that the man had a relationship with the Muslim’s sister. In Nigeria, Muslims attacked a Christian village of Mazzah, killing eight people and burning seven houses and a church. Muslims attacked people with machetes, including children.

    These accounts will not find it in the Leftist media. Try building a church in Mecca. The West seems to be unwilling to act and Pope Benedict remembers the controversy sparked by his comments on jihad. They lead to Christian deaths at the hands of fanatics. Only when the Islamo-fascists realize their will be no 72 virgins, will there be peace. But they are dedicated to converting the world. Nice try, Pope Benedict, then again you are about the only one recognizing the plight of Christians throughout the world.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    When all of the Christians are pushed out of America, there
    goes all of the tax payers and then what, the left will be here
    and left without………………………………………..William

  • pennswoods

    Too bad Whoopie Goldberg and Joy Behar won't read this article. They might learn something about the power and the meaning of Islam…

  • vladdyjen

    The World Coucil of Churches, that "represents mainline Christians": should be joining with the pope on this instaed of their nasty work toward disinvestment of Israel. On the other hand — only two weeks devoted to this?