The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court upheld the apostasy conviction and execution sentencing of Christian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani this week. Social media accounts like Twitter have swarmed support for Pastor Nadarkhani. But where is the critically needed support from nation states—let alone, from where the Vatican?
The Vatican is an internationally recognized sovereign state with full diplomatic status. The Holy See has a legal personality under international law, giving it recognition as a sovereign state, which allows it to enter into treaties and to send and receive diplomatic representation. Knowing the Vatican has these powers, why hasn’t it spoken up on behalf of the Christian minister?
It is understood that the Vatican does not have its own military. However, history exemplifies the power of the Vatican to bring nations together to defeat its arch enemies through either diplomatic means or military might. This does not imply cause for a militant exhibition. However, it does imply, in a historical sense, the power of the Vatican. Has that power been lost today?
At the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II addressed the world to aid the Greeks and recover Palestine from Muslim rule. It was here that Pope Urban II requested aid from the West to fight against the Seljuq Turks. Nation states listened to the Pope and launched armies to engage battle against the Muslims, which lasted approximately 175 years. Some believe the ninth crusade was initiated by Muslims ten years ago on that horrific and tragic September day often referred to as 9-11.
Assyrian-born Chaldean Catholic Tariq Aziz served as deputy prime minister to Iraq until 2003. During his tenure and immediately prior to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Saddam Hussein repeatedly sent Aziz to the Vatican in an attempt to delay and or resolve military confrontation against the United States. Needless to say, when you commit crimes against humanity as Aziz had, it’s extremely tough for the Vatican to assist you.
Iran constantly commits crimes against humanity. War crimes have been committed, relentless killings of innocent people, torture, and so much more comes directly out of this Shiite-dominated state—yet they sit on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Vatican failed in delivering any statement opposing this newly appointed Iranian UN position.
Lately, instead of fighting for the morale and values bestowed before a loving and peaceful Christian faith, Pope Benedict seems to have embraced Iran. In 2008, Pope Benedict actually conferred that the two entities agreed with one another on faith-based principles. Pope Urban II must be rolling in his grave.
Since 2001 alone, there have been well over 2,000 innocent Christians brutally murdered by Muslims. None of these people were military members engaged in any of the wars fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. They were faith-based community members or missionaries, some of which were actual clergy. Not once in any of the aforementioned atrocities did the Vatican make a global outcry for the victims. Yes, some statements can be found in Vatican records, but they failed to saturate international media news as they should have.
If anyone believes that the Vatican will step up today in safeguarding one of their own practitioners who preaches the word of God to fellow Christians, they will likely be let down. As a practicing Roman Catholic, I am at times ashamed of my own religious denomination, yet for whatever reason, I maintain my faith.
There are currently numerous prayer calls for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. Numerous petitions exist requesting the United States Department of State intervene. While fully recognizing the power of prayer, maybe it’s time to simply do more about Iran and follow the war cry of Pope Urban II not just for the sake of Pastor Nadarkhani but for all of those who have faced the horrors of Iran’s evil.