Skip to comments.Christianity turns the other cheek-Where is the outrage when a church is desecrated?
Posted on 05/13/2002 10:12:58 AM PDT by gubamyster
Raymond J. de Souza National Post
ROME - Christians have forgotten how to take offence.
For several weeks now, the European political class has worked itself into a lather about the spectre of anti-Muslim persecution, fanned by the anti-immigration policies of the recently trounced Jean-Marie Le Pen in France and the recently assassinated Pim Fortuyn of the Netherlands. All this while armed terrorists were occupying Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
And so continues the surreal post-Sept. 11 world, in which anti-Islamic rhetoric brings forth an overwhelming political response, while outraged reaction to the violation of Christian faith, represented by the occupation of the Church of the Nativity, is almost completely absent.
It needs to be said. The occupation of the Church of the Nativity by armed Palestinian terrorists was a gravely anti-Christian act. Much has been made of how the basilica was filthy but not seriously damaged. To speak only of what happens to a church physically is to miss the point. One of Christianity's holiest shrines was profaned by armed terrorists. It is blasphemy to use the house of God as a military refuge. For more than a month, the faithful were denied access to the basilica to pray while the gunmen used its status as a house of prayer as a tactical advantage.
That the key men inside were not refugees but terrorists was confirmed by the reluctance of any country to grant them exile. Italy grudgingly agreed to take one or two, but reports in the Italian press yesterday indicate they will be kept confined, perhaps on an island somewhere. Too dangerous for the Italian mainland, apparently, but Europeans appeared to be fine with the fact such men would have the run of the Church of the Nativity.
Of course, all the usual caveats apply. Islam is not to be equated with violence. "Palestinian" and "terrorist" are not synonyms. Israel is not without sins.
And yes, the Israeli army did lay siege to the Church of the Nativity. But the "occupation-siege," as the Vatican always referred to it, was first an occupation. The Israelis did not lay siege before the gunmen stormed in, and they left when the gunmen were escorted out. No occupation, no siege. It should be noted that in the early days of the "occupation-siege" Israeli President Moshe Katsav promised Pope John Paul II that Israel would not attack the church, a promise that was kept. Bethlehem is a Palestinian town, but to date there has been no statement from the Palestinian authorities condemning the use of the church as an armed refuge.
Christian pusillanimity reached absurd lows last Saturday night when Italian mayors, gathered in Rome, took to the Colosseum to sing John Lennon's Imagine. Italy, which is very proud of itself for being selected as the likely site of the next international peace conference on the Middle East, wanted to show its commitment to peace. The Christian martyrs of the Colosseum would have wept to see it.
The enemies of Christianity are justified in their laughter. The birthplace of Jesus Christ is overrun by terrorists, and in response, dozens of at least nominally Catholic politicians sing pop music's most nihilistic anthem --imagine there's no Heaven ... no countries ... no religion. Imagine no Christian resistance. It isn't hard to do.
The Vatican itself was better, though its diplomats hedged their words, as one would do when your friars and nuns are in possible mortal danger from armed terrorists. The word of men who do not respect sacred places counts for little when it comes to the safety of the consecrated persons who administer them.
Yesterday, Pope John Paul said that he felt "great relief that the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem has been returned to God and to the faithful." The implication was clear: the occupation had taken the basilica away from those to whom it belongs -- God and those who would pray to Him there. The Pope sent a special envoy to celebrate Mass at the shrine, which was officially described as an act of "thanksgiving, atonement and reconciliation." The key word there is "atonement" -- an acknowledgment that grave sins against the holiness of the basilica were committed and that God's forgiveness needs to be asked.
The enormity of what happened needs to be underscored. Speaking of the "long and anguished history of the Church" in the Holy Land, the Franciscan priest responsible for the shrines, Father Giovanni Battistelli, called the "occupation-siege of the Shrine of the Nativity a chapter utterly without precedent." Never before in the centuries of wars and sackings that have drenched the Holy Land in blood has the basilica of the Nativity been occupied. And for good reason -- potential occupiers knew that a ferocious response would certainly have followed. Today, the only penalty seems to be having to listen to John Lennon's puerile philosophy set to music.
The Church of the Nativity was desecrated. The Christian response was a disgrace.
Raymond J. de Souza is Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He is to be ordained a Catholic priest in July.
Don't you watch the news broadcasts?
They were Palestinian "militants" seeking refuge
from Israeli forced who wanted to assasinate them.
The UN and the EU have so declared.
They must be right, don't you think?
I wonder if the editor who penned this title even knows who it was that counseled this course of action?
Absolutely correct. Only the world system puts its faith in brick and mortar.
The Church of the Nativity was desecrated. The Christian response was a disgrace.And when the Hagia Sophia was desecrated?
Sounds like the Vatican is trying to rally another Crusade.Cool idea. Maybe there's an e-saver to Malta. And I look smashing in Templar blue.
Can you imagine the outcry if anyone occupied the dome of the rock or the mosque at mecca?
Second, I hold the PLO in such low esteem that my opinion of them COULDN'T be worse. They are animals with no respect for anything. Even their supposed association with a false religion is a lie. They care no more about Islam than what sympathy and money they can get from other Islam countries.
First of all, it's a building. Historical maybe but it should be treated with reverence and respect but Our Lord may have been born there, but he isn't there anymore and we are told when he returns he will make all things new. It broke my heart to see what they did. Not so much what was done but their under disregard for the place.
Christians can pray any place. They don't need to go to a shrine to pray. Thhe Muslims hate Christians as much as they hate the jews so this was no surprise to me when it was left like a pig pen. They didn't desacrate the place. They desacrated themselves by their hate that their relgion teaches and stresses. They will answer for it one day and I believe that day is coming soon.
I am sorry, but some christians out there have a completely twisted sense of the jurisdictions Christ was talking about. For there is a difference between making war or argument for jurisdictions we do not own, and making war and arguments for jurisdictions over which we are granted custody, despite our sinful nature.
1. Christ forbid people from testing the Lord. And not acting when the jurisdiction of loved ones is being desecrated is testing the lord.
2. Christ specificaly said that he came to bring us a sword against those aiming at invading the jurisdictions of those who worshiped him.
and indeed, desecrating his place of worship means we must use his sword that he sent:
 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.