Before going to chapel in the morning I usually check ANSA, the Italian version of AP. There it was, another terrorist attack, this time in a parish church of St. Etienne du Rouvray in the northern French city of Rouen. Two men shouting “Daesh,” the Arabic word for ISIS and “Allah ak Bar.” They slit the throat of the priest as he was celebrating Mass, wounded three, one of whom is in grave condition and took four hostages, two religious sisters and two lay faithful, all attending Mass. ISIS has claimed responsibility for two of their “soldiers” and once again France has become the victim of hatred, violence and rejection of any persons or groups ISIS labels as their enemies.
The President of France, M. Hollande, with the Minister of the Interior, M. Cazaneuve, went to Rouen and were on the scene this morning. The Holy Father in Poland condemned the action and called for prayer. Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen, also in Poland for World Youth Day, has returned to his people.
Every decent human being can do none other than condemn these atrocities and support all those — armed forces, police and international forces — that protect the innocent. That is normal.
As a Catholic I recoil from several things. First of all seeing an international network of terrorist thugs able to destroy the innocent at will is bad enough. But they try to cloak their lawless violence under an appeal to their religion which makes a mockery of all those Muslims who are true adherents of their faith.
Second, as a Catholic I recoil at seeing a parish church turned into a killing field. Yet that has been happening all across the Middle East now for many years.
Third, I wonder about the irony that these morally bankrupt leaders of Daesh look on Christianity as an integral component of western “civilization” when Europe stands today as a denier that Christianity is even part of their heritage. Yet, if I am honest, I have to admit that the secularist model of Europe without Christian roots is exactly what is happening here in my own country. Even the mention of God is challenged into our country today. “Progressives” and secularists announce that if religion disagrees with their agenda, then the religion needs to be changed. And it goes on and on.
Before I say my rosary for the victims at St. Etienne Church may I add two things, one factual, the other more important. Bret Stephens in today’s Wall Street Journal (July 26) challenges us all when he asks “Is Europe Helpless?” and suggests that a civilization that believes in nothing will ultimately submit to anything. In short the challenge we face is a moral one. Because I believe that is factually true, I close with the more important invitation. Please join me as I say my rosary because without a sense of God and the redemption of His Son, our union in the Holy Spirit which makes us as Church witnesses to the true meaning of life, given to us through Mary, our Mother, we too will end up believing in nothing and submitting to whatever is the predominant power of the day.