The barbaric Islamic State regime marauding through Syria and Iraq has gained the Vatican’s full attention.
In recent weeks the world has finally started to pay serious attention to the barbarism of the Islamic State, the radical Islamist group taking over Iraq and Syria. The growing outcry includes voices from Pope Francis and the Vatican, who are concerned about the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.
Criticized for his weak, uncommitted response to the Islamic State, the pope appears to be changing his tune.
During his Sunday blessing on August 10, “Pope Francis used unusually strong language to condemn the actions of [the Islamic State],” according to the Guardian (emphasis added throughout). “Unusually strong language” is probably an overstatement by the Guardian. Compared to previous popes, and considering the dramatic cruelty of the terrorist group, it is easier to make the case that Francis’s remarks are merely stronger than they were before.
However, the pope’s remarks, and some recent decisions made by the Vatican, clearly reveal that the Vatican is toughening its stance.
Two recent moves signal how serious the Vatican and the pope are about the situation in Iraq. Pope Francis is dispatching his close ally, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect for the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, as a personal envoy to the country. Also, according to the Guardian, the Vatican is planning to meet with all its envoys from the region in September.
Internal encouragement added to external pressure have prompted the pope to speak out.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the president handling Eastern Catholic churches, in his August 7 statement published by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches thanked the pope for his “attentive closeness” to the developing situation and called the Islamic State’s actions “acts against God.”
On August 12, the Vatican continued its call for more action, even condoning military intervention. Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican Radio that United States President Barack Obama’s decision to bomb Islamic State militants was “something that had to be done.” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, followed that up by telling Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”
This past Monday, while returning from a five-day trip to South Korea, Francis continued his push for Western intervention by suggesting that the West must stop the Islamic State with whatever legal means available. “Where there is unjust aggression,” he told reporters, “I am not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ but ‘stop him.’ The means by which he can be stopped must be evaluated. Stopping the aggressor is legitimate.”
USA Today noted that Francis’s remarks were “a rare pronouncement that goes against the Vatican’s usual guidance against the use of force.” As the article goes on to explain, just last year during an open-air August mass, Francis objected to the idea of military intervention in Syria stating, “Violence and war are never the way to peace.”
Many have taken Francis’s ongoing comments as a push for war.
In what could be a related response to Vatican efforts to generate a response to the Islamic State, Germany has also agreed “in principle” to send various armaments to Kurdish forces fighting the terrorist group. Currently, the militants are better armed with superior American military equipment and weapons obtained from retreating Iraqi forces. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier explained that the barbaric violence in Iraq and the growing threat to Europe was the reason for the decision. European leaders are concerned that the Islamic State will advance further; thus, putting Kurdish forces on an equal or better footing with the terrorist group is a growing priority.
If Germany does send armaments to the region, it will join other European nations, including France, which has already sent arms to Kurdish fighters. Italy is also contemplating sending used machine guns, ammunition and anti-tank rockets.
In recent months, the Islamic State has taken aim at both Europe and America, but its turn toward Europe is most notable and geopolitically significant. When the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the Islamic State a “caliphate” on the first day of Ramadan, June 29, he said, “Rush, O Muslims, to your state. Yes, it is your state. Rush, because Syria is not for the Syrians and Iraq is not for the Iraqis. … The land is for the Muslims, all the Muslims. … This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”
Such braggadocio is sure to have gained the Vatican’s attention. “Rome” is a code word for the Vatican and the Catholic religion. So we should expect the Vatican to continue to marshal its considerable political power and influence against the Islamic State and radical Islamic terror.
Full article: Where the Vatican’s Call for Military Intervention in Iraq Is Headed (The Trumpet)