You know a situation is bad when a pope calls for an armed response. Pope Francis, widely appreciated as a practical and realistic man, is not just calling for a cease-fire or negotiations. Instead, he is inviting an armed response to the terrorism of the Islamic State.
Such a call is virtually unprecedented for a pontiff in modern times, but our age is an extraordinary one and the Islamic State has no interest in a bargaining table. Instead, the Islamic State is bent on genocide and barbarism, ruthlessly exterminating anyone who opposes them.
On Sunday, Pope Francis said he held “dismay and disbelief” over what is happening in Iraq. He called the Islamic State fighters terrorists and said there was a need for “a professional, well-equipped army.” “The situation is going from bad to worse,” he warned. One can only imagine what he was thinking after ISIS published the beheading of James Foley, the CNN journalist.
Meanwhile, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad said, “There is a need of international support and a professional, well-equipped army. The situation is going from bad to worse.”
Pope Francis and Patriarch Sako are not the only clerics calling for swift and decisive action to end the genocide in Iraq. The Episcopal Vicar of Iraq, Canon Andrew White, managed to visit the town of Qaraqosh under cover and personally assess the situation in that community following Islamic State capture.
His words are chilling. “Today, Qaraqosh stands 90 per cent empty, desecrated by the gunmen of the fanatical Islamic State terror group now in control. The majority of the town’s 50,000 people have fled, fearing that, like other Christians in this region, they will be massacred.
“The militants, in a further act of sacrilege, have established their administrative posts in the abandoned churches.”
Canon White reported that one woman had her finger hacked off after she could not remove her wedding ring fast enough. A caretaker of one of White’s parish churches in the community said his youngest son, aged five, was hacked in half as he watched.
A child, just five years old, hacked in half alive, before his father. The boy happened to be named Andrew, after the vicar himself.
The atrocities are real. The genocide is real. That the press barely reports on them is absolutely baffling. However, even the most religious, peace-loving figures are recognizing that this is not a usual evil. Normally, conflicts arise because of ancient grievances and they can be talked over and hashed out. Warring factions tire of burying their sons and eventually dialogue and other pressures forces peace.
However, the Islamic State has recruited fighters from most of the world’s nations and more arrive every day. They are motivated by an aggressive interpretation of Islamic scriptures. Most notably, they are consumed with bloodlust and willing to commit and publicize every atrocity. This attracts sadistic men from across the Islamic world to their cause who commit even more atrocities.
There seems no end to this madness.