Who guards the guardians?

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It was, as many of you have said, splendid to hear the tones of Deacon Nick Donnelly again. In other places, a few mean-minded critics have criticised him for writing here, which is odd, given that most of those who take that view are fine with people who write things which run counter of Catholic teaching publishing; normally quite prepared to support anyone who questions Church doctrine, these people become almost ultra-Montane when they think they have a Pope who is on their side. They sense that Pope Francis might well give them some of their cherished demands, and so they are happy to see dissent from what they think he stands for crushed; they demonstrate the usual liberal hypocrisy – we demand toleration for our dissent, but demand your orthodoxy be crushed; we are free to speak, because we are on the side of progress; you should be silenced, because you are not.

As one with a long background in Anglicanism before converting to Orthodoxy, these attitudes are depressingly familiar; all change in a liberal direction is never enough; all failure to advance fast enough in that direction is a sign of bone-headed bigotry. Nor are the reasons far to seek. If you have liberal opinions and spend your life among those who agree with you, it is, as the modern Conservative leadership demonstrates, very easy to assume that your views are normative – because for you and your kind, they are – and to dismiss those who hold other views as hopelessly out of date; such is the power of group-think that it takes real courage in such circles to hold a contrary view. It is not ratiocination and the power of argument which silences some people, it is the fear of social ostracisation.

Part of the difficulty Deacon Nick found himself in was that he was protecting the Pope, from, amongst others, Peter Tatchell (who as Geoffrey pointed out recently, got a nice write-up in Faith Today); but who protects the protector? Bishops, as Newman and the Oxford Movement knew full well, tend to be, shall we say, mindful of their careers, and whilst usually willing to appease those of a liberal persuasion, have often had difficulty with orthodox critics. This placed Newman and the other Tractarians in a spot in the late 1830s. They were arguing for the authority of the Church, which effectively was also a call to arms for the shepherds of the flock, but the only opinion against which the shepherds were willing to deploy their crooks was that of the orthodox. Newman, like Dean Nick, found himself in a dilemma which had no resolution. Those who dissented on the liberal side were happy to defy ecclesiastical authority in the name of ‘freedom of expression'; those who called for a reinforcement of orthodoxy were hoist by their own petard when the bishops got worried. If one believes in the authority of bishops, then when they tell you to shut up, you really have no choice but to obey. You do not have open to you the option of writing contumacious letters demanding to know on what grounds your father in God is calling you to silence, because that is not the way your mind goes. But what do you do?

For Newman, in the end, the answer was clear – cross the Tiber. Back then Rome was a hissing and a by-word for reactionary orthodoxy, although one is minded to quote Evelyn Waugh’s complain that the Church had never quite managed to put the clock back by a minute. There is, to the orthodox, nothing ‘reactionary’ about holding to the faith ‘once given’, as given and as held by our forefathers. In fact, the Orthodox call it giving the ancestors a voice. Tradition, for orthodox Christians is vitally important, not because they oppose change, but because they see no reason to change what the Church has done for such a long time. When, as with the case of marriage as raised by Deacon Nick, it is something Christ himself has said, there really is no debate.

Those who think there is going to be a change in the forthcoming Synod remind me of those who awaited Humanae Vitae in the confident expectation that the advice of the ‘experts’ would be heeded; but Pope Paul VI knew he had no choice but to stick with the teaching of the Church. His reputation among the liberals never recovered; Pope Francis will discover the same if he holds to what Jesus said.

Culture Wars

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There is a line in a Leonard Cohen song which goes: ‘there is war between those who say there is a war/and those who say there isn’t'; quite apposite in the case of the so-called ‘culture wars’. Those who say that there is no war do so because their mind-set arranges things in a way which means that there really is no war. They are on the side of ‘progress’, and everyone (who matters) agrees that that is a good thing; the real progressives think it is a very good thing indeed; the revolutionaries are in such a hurry for it that they want to get there sooner. Where? There is an in-built teleology in the mind-set. Things are getting better and will get even better; history is tending in the direction of progress; one’s job is certainly to be on its side, and there are certainly jobs to be had that way; if one can direct it, there is real power to be had: ‘can we do it? Yes we can.’ No need to ask what ‘it’ is, it is progress, it is taking the steps on the road to the new Jerusalem: new wine for old, new ways for old, and even new wives for old. The past was a bad place where they did things we no longer do; we measure our progress against (self-selected) ‘benchmarks’ and, to our satisfaction, find things are better – thanks to us. So, no ‘war’ here, simply a following of the tide to a better and brighter future; there are, of course, those enemies of progress who create a culture war; but it is their fault.

There is a quite splendid piece of leger de main involved here; it places those who simply favour the status quo in the position of having to defend what is conventional wisdom; if not all that is, is good, it is at least something known and experienced; the reformers offer a better jam tomorrow. Those who defend the status quo know there is a war, because they feel the foundations shifting, and they share Matthew Arnold’s view:

for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
There is much to admire about the faith of the progressive. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they continue to believe that there can be certitude and peace, and that tablets will bring relief from the pain that psychiatry cannot sure; every fresh demagogue who promises ‘equality’ is seized upon by them with joy, allowing them, as he does, to get over the last disappointment. I am old enough to remember when that old monster Mao Tse Tung (as we then used to spell his name) was looked upon by them with the sort of reverence which their predecessors had given to Stalin. It is a mistake to think the progressives have no faith, as I am not quite sure what else one would call a belief in the socialist utopia which never comes.
For them, the Christian position is, at best, providing an opiate for the masses; for those such as myself, their position is one of jam tomorrow and jobs for the boys (and girls) today. All of which is, when you come to examine it, a shame, because, as St James tells us, true religion is helping the poor. Both sides in the culture war want a better world. To me, the Christian world-view explains why the faith of the Left in man’s ability to deliver this himself is misplaced.

 

Reaping the whirlwind

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First, a word of thanks to Chalcedon for holding the fort during my absence through illness; with blood pressure back under control, I can resume – although as Mrs S commented, was blogging perhaps not so good for it?

The news on AATW has, rightly, been dominated by what’s been happening in Iraq; the news in the media’s been rather fuller of what’s been happening in the Ukraine and Gaza. On the former it seems plain that it was the pro-Russian militia which brought the aircraft down, and quite why Tsar Putin can’t bring himself to say so is part of what is allowing the neo Cold warriors to stir up a strom against him: ideologues on both sides will no doubt make things worse – and is their tendency. We see this at its most deadly in Gaza. You can’t, of course, write a line on this without one side or the other accusing you of being either in favour of a new holocaust, or being a defender of the killing of children. Since no one, not even most of those who work in these black and white dichotomies, is actually in favour of either, it is a sign of how poisoned the well s have become. Both sides are right, and both sides wrong, and all that has happened, especially since 1967, has continued to create a situation which has no outcome which can be either imagined, or will be good.

The Israelis are not going to go away: they know they are threatened with extinction. when Israel was created there was the general expectation that Islam, like most religion, would become a declining force, and that a functioning and prosperous democracy in the Middle East would, in some ways, act, rather as Turkey was expected to, as a forerunner of the modernisation of that region. No one had expected the resurgence of fundamentalist Islam, and no one has any answer to it. However much the Israelis feel they have to bomb Gaza in self-protection, it brings no real long-term protection; but then the attempts of previous Israeli governments to cede land in return for peace brought no long-term protection either. As a fresh vintage of the Grapes of Wrath are being trampled out, millionaire terrorists consolidate their hold on power in the name of a Palestinian people who continue to suffer. No decent person could but feel horror for their suffering, as well as a sense of frustration that they are being used as pawns by their so-called leaders, many of whom seem quite willing to use them for propaganda purposes. Meanwhile, in European cities, we see a rise of anti-Semitism. Those Jews who protest against the violence deployed by Israel will not be spared thereby, but they stand for their principles as men and women of honour. But those governing Israel are not demons, however much they are demonized, they are men and women dealing with an intractable, and possibly insoluble problem.

If attempts at trading lad for peace have failed, and force is not succeeding, then we see the results of the policies of men who have been willing to go to extremes in defence of a cause they think good. They sow the wind, they reap the whirlwind. Violence begets violence, and until men turn from it to follow a better way, then the innocent will suffer, and all we can do is to pray for them.

The Obstinate Champions of Catholic Truth

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This is a guest post by Deacon Nick Donnelly, founder of the blog Protect the Pope. It first appeared here in Catholic Voice and is reproduced by permission of the editor:

 

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In three months time a couple of hundred bishops, cardinals and lay experts from around the world will convene in Rome to take part in the Extraordinary Synod on the “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. I must admit that, along with many other faithful Catholics, I view this prospect with a sense of growing concern. This is not a theoretical or academic concern, but a very personal concern that involves my life and important decisions I’ve made. 
Like many other faithful Catholics I’ve been convinced by what the Church teaches about divorce and re-marriage, IVF, contraception, euthanasia, and countless other moral teachings.  And with the minority of Catholics who remain faithful to the fullness of the Church’s teaching I have made life-changing decisions based on the assumption that the Church would forever stand by these categorical moral truths, because they are founded on ‘God’s message and not some human thinking’ (I Thess 2:13). I follow the Church’s moral teaching because great teachers throughout her history, and recently St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have taught me that it expresses divine truths that liberate me from sin, save me from hell, and enable me to live as a child of God.

 

The source of my growing concern is the persistent report that the Synod may consider changing one of the Church’s categorical moral teachings that divorced and re-married Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion. This is one of the fixed moral compass points of Catholic morality that can be traced all the way back to the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ that those who divorce and re-marry commit adultery (Mark 10:11-12). This is divine truth and not some human thinking and no synod, cardinal, bishop or theologian can change this.

What are the grounds for these concerns?  Pope Francis’ interview with journalists on the flight back from Rio’s World Youth Day [WYD] in 2013 has been taken by some cardinals and bishops as the Holy Father giving permission for them to consider allowing divorced and re-married to receive Holy Communion. Here are Pope Francis’ actual words:

‘With reference to the issue of giving communion to persons in a second union (because those who are divorced can receive communion, there is no problem, but when they are in a second union, they can’t…), I believe that we need to look at this within the larger context of the entire pastoral care of marriage.  And so it is a problem.  But also – a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice.  They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance, they allow it.  But I believe that this problem – and here I close the parenthesis – must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage.’

Pope Francis’ use of the phrase ‘pastoral care’ and his reference to the Orthodox practice of allowing second, non-sacramental marriages, has encouraged those who have long sought to change the Church’s teaching. Three months after Pope Francis’ WYD interview, the German Archdiocese of Freiburg, unilaterally suggested ripping up the Church’s teaching by proposing a permissive pastoral approach allowing divorce, re-marriage and communion. Freiburg recommended that if divorced and re-married Catholics could prove to a priest that the first marriage was definitively over, and they could show ‘new moral responsibility’, then after an appropriate sign of repentance, they would be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Freiburg did not address why or how this second marriage was no longer adulterous. Following this blatant rejection of Our Lord’s words and the Church’s 2,000 years of doctrine on marriage and the sacraments a number of German bishops have spoken out in support of the change. They have also neglected to explain how they could put aside Christ’s teaching on divorce and re-marriage.

Speculation reached fever pitch in February 2014 when Pope Francis chose Cardinal Kasper, the arch-proponent of allowing communion for divorced and re-married, to address the consistory of cardinals in preparation for the October Synod. During his address Kasper proposed that the Church permit the impermissible, when he ‘allowed for the possibility that in very specific cases the Church could tolerate, though not accept, a second union’. Cardinal Kasper has been pushing for the Church to change her doctrine in this area for decades because lots of German Catholics are divorced and re-married. What he fails to take into account is that just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t make it right. It’s heartening to report that many senior cardinals took vocal exception to Kasper’s ‘pastoral’ approach.

But since Kasper’s intervention the official line from those seeking change is to state unequivocally that ‘Church doctrine will not be changed’, but that a ‘pastoral solution’ must be found.  Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor gave an example of this approach when asked the question, “Do you foresee that there could be a change in relation to the question of the divorced and remarried?” To which the cardinal replied, “I don’t know. The Church does not change, it develops. By that I mean the doctrine of the Church develops by going out in a different direction.  That is to say, it changes in an indirect way. And it could develop in the question of the divorced and remarried.”

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The truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ is crystal clear so when the language of prelates becomes torturous and hard-to-follow we know that the truth is somehow at stake. So I’ll state this clearly – if this bedrock ofCatholic doctrine on the sanctity marriage and the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament is changed, even changed indirectly, then we are departing from the truth. If we move from the revealed truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ then what shall we believe? Any of the Church’s moral doctrines can then be changed. Will we hear at some future date a cardinal using the language of pastoral care and mercy saying that the Church could tolerate, though not accept, contraception and IVF? Or even that the Church could tolerate, though not accept, homosexual sex and same-sex marriage?

So what happens if the dual synods of 2014 and 2015 come up with an ambiguous form of words that states that the Church’s teaching on marriage and the Blessed Sacrament cannot change but allows, in some circumstances to be determined by national episcopal conferences, divorced and re-married to receive Holy Communion?

If this tragic day comes I ask you to join me in not regretting or resenting the sacrifices that we have made through being faithful to God’s divine teaching. With all the focus on those who have broken their marriage vows and entered into second unions it appears that many of the bishops have forgotten the faithful who remain true to the Church’s doctrine often at great personal cost. The October synod should honour all those husbands and wives who remain faithful to their marriages, raising children on their own, even though they have been abandoned by their spouses. The Synod bishops should also respect those couples who do not have children because they refused to avail themselves of IVF as the solution to their infertility. The synod should also congratulate all those couples who enjoy large families on small incomes for rejecting contraception.

When I consider the synod in October I find consolation and guidance in what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote about the orthodoxy of the faithful during the betrayal of the Faith by many bishops during the Arian crisis. He wrote:

‘The Catholic people, in the length and breadth of Christendom, were the obstinate champions of Catholic truth, and the bishops were not. It is not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak that constitute the Church’s real strength.’

No matter what happens I will trust Our Lord’s confidence in the Holy Spirit, when He said “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children”. (Luke 10:21). Let us stay in love with the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Nick’s previous statement can be found here

 

 

 

Persecution

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Jessica’s piece, earlier, was a timely reminder that there is more than one way in which the fanatics can ‘win'; their aim is to set communities against each other, and if they succeed, we shall have handed them a significant victory; that we must not do. We can see, all over the world, how their tactics are working: from Nigeria, through to the Southern Sudan, Egypt, the Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, the methodology is the same – to stoke up inter-communal hatred to the point at which the violence which they crave breaks out. Once that happens, things tend to move the way the extremists want, and ethnic cleansing begins, either by force, or voluntarily. We have, in the former Yugoslavia, an example of how this can work through; it is not one anyone would be wise to follow.

In all of these places we are dealing with the aftermath of Ottoman rule. Although at times both cruel and capricious, and always discriminating against Christianity, the Ottomans were comfortable enough to allow the existing Christian communities to continue to exist. As recently as the Great War, about 20% of the population of Turkey was Christian; then, in 1922/23 came the so-called ‘population exchanges’, when Christian families who had lived in Smyrna since the time of St Paul, found themselves being sent to Greece, and Muslims who had lived in Salonika since the Middle Ages, found themselves going to Turkey. The misery and the suffering, and indeed the sheer madness of it all, are well caught in Louise de Berniere’s marvellous novel, Birds without WingsCommunities of Jews, Muslims and Christians, who had lived side by side for centuries, and into whose religious practices elements of each other’s faiths had penetrated, found themselves taking sides against their neighbours and friends in the name of ideologues whose sole contribution to history was destructive.

We do not serve the cause of God by persecution; the days of mass conversion at sword’s point are, at least for most Christians and Muslims, in the past – and that is where they belong. Yes, in our fallen nature, we tend towards the tribal, but in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile, and we are called to be one, and to be merciful to the stranger in our gate. What, however, if that stranger wants to blow us up? In that case we might care to ponder why he does, and to wonder whether singling him and his kind out for suspicion is more or less likely to exacerbate that situation? We might also wonder how many of our fellow citizens really want to blow us up?

Persecution is not the way of the Christian, although it is the via dolorosa many of our brothers and sisters are called to tread. We must help them in every way we can; but we give only aid and comfort to their (and our) enemies, if we yield to the temptations of intolerance. Back in 2001/2 there were some of us who counselled against military action against the Taliban, not because we were pacifists, but because we were realists. I recall asking an American audience which nation had found its military involvement in Afghanistan profitable in any way; but anger was high, and sense had flown out of the window. It did not take any great genius, simply a knowledge of history, to predict that where Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians had come to grief, so too would the Americans; nether did it take much to foresee what the effect of the operation would have on relations with the Muslim world. When the madness that was the second Iraq war was launched, some of us despaired. It was clear that none of those at a senior level, had any idea of the complexities of the Iraqi situation, or of the communal strife that was bound to follow the fall of Saddam; but not, even in my worst nightmares, did I foresee that it get so bad that something like ISIS would come to the fore.

The ignorant blundering of Powers which mistake military superiority for an ability to create a successful post-war order has produced what it has produced. It is clear that our leaders have no idea what to do about the results of their policies, except to to to pretend nothing is wrong, and hope that more money, and perhaps more arms, will put it right. These things have already failed, and they will fail again. We must not add to the situation by allowing the fanatics further success by dividing our own communities even further against each other.

When evil prospers

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As some of you know, I have two dear friends from University days who converted to Islam, and with whom I stay in touch. One of them telephoned me on Friday. She has become increasingly concerned at the public displays of hostility to her, and her children; she feels that there is a tide of Islamophobia which is rising. My heart went out to her. I know how unhappy and conflicted she was in her first year at University. The Christian faith she brought with her was not firmly rooted, and it failed to withstand the storms of an aggressive lecturer and the temptations of student life. The loss of her faith made her both unhappy and reckless, and those of us who cared about her prayed for her, and with her, and did what we could to let her know we loved her and were there for her; but none of it helped; not a bit. It was only when she encountered some Muslim students and went along to a Friday prayer group that she found something which helped her, which brought her calmness and peace, and she converted later that year; she later married one of our fellow students, and now has three children and works part-time as a teacher. Like all good people, she is upset at what some do in the name of her faith, and as her husband is an Iraqi, she is especially concerned at what is happening in Mosul. At yesterday’s demonstration in London, there were, as you can see from the picture, Muslims marching with Copts to say that what was happening in Mosul was not in their name.

It is bad enough that the evil being done in Mosul is happening; it would be an even worse tragedy if it were to lead to the belief that these fanatics are typical of Muslims in Britain – or elsewhere. Yes, there are some fanatics, as there are everywhere, but ISIS is as much a threat to many Muslims as it it to everyone else. Senior Muslim scholars have spoken out against the barbarities of what is happening in Mosul, whilst Muslims have declared their support for the Christians:

A day after Christians fled Mosul, the northern city controlled by Islamist extremists, under the threat of death, Muslims and Christians gathered under the same roof — a church roof — here on Sunday afternoon. By the time the piano player had finished the Iraqi national anthem, and before the prayers, Manhal Younis was crying.

“I can’t feel my identity as an Iraqi Christian,” she said, her three little daughters hanging at her side.

A Muslim woman sitting next to her in the pew reached out and whispered, “You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.”

That thought is shared by my Muslim friends, and their fear is that community relations, already strained by the activities of terrorists, will reach breaking point. There are millions of Muslims in this country and in the rest of Europe, as well as the United States. We must not let the terrorists win by making the rest of us identify all Muslims as being with this small minority. This Sunday my friend and her family attended an Orthodox Liturgy near where they live; next week some of their Christian friends are going to a Friday prayer meeting. This is not syncretism, it is solidarity – the solidarity of those whose sincerity in their faith leads them to want peace and not war. The fanatics, on all sides, do not speak for most of us. The God who is love does not operate through hate; all those who hate work against the God who is love and have not the truth in them.

 

Gospel 17th Sunday in OT, Year A

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St Matthew 13:44-52

St Hilary of Poitiers tells us that the treasure hidden in the field points towards the Incarnate Lord, who is found as a free gift; there are no strings attached. The power to use and to own this treasure comes at a price, for heavenly riches do not come to us without worldly cost. St Gregory the Great comments that we conquer earthly desires by observing heavenly discipline, no longer fearing anything which might destroy bodily life; such is the one who sells everything to buy the field.

The costly pearl is the living Word, Origen tells us, who is superior even to the laws and the prophets; the faithful seek it even at the cost of everything else. Theodore of Mopsuestia reminds us that many who have been entirely foreign to religion have immediately recognised, thanks to Divine Grace, the greatness of Christ; henceforth they despise their former things of value and look to Christ alone. Love of Christ makes one turn to Jesus. Such a one we see in St Paul, who counts all but Christ as loss.

SS Hilary and Gregory the Great note that the net captures all the peoples of the world, which shows that the Good News is for all people, including the Gentiles. The Church, entrusted to the fisherman, Peter, brings into it all manner of people; at the end of time the Lord will sort them.

Jesus talks here to the disciples and compares them to a householder, for they understood the teaching of his storeroom, of things old and new. He calls them scribes because of their knowledge, for they understood the new and the old, St Hilary writes – that is in the Gospels and the Law. St Cyril of Alexandria comments that a scribe is one who, through continual reading of the Testaments, Old and New, had laid up for himself a storehouse of knowledge. Jesus blesses those who have educated themselves in the law and the Gospel, because they can bring forth from this treasure help to the people.

St Gregory the Great points out that before the Incarnation, our fate was to to be bound to hell and eternal punishment, but now, through the one and only Mediator, Christ Jesus, we can attain to life eternal. St Augustine reminds us that the old things – the Law – are not done away with, but rather are hidden in the storeroom, and the learned scribes brings from the storeroom not new things only, nor yet new things only. The old is enlightened by the new, and we come to the Lord so that the veil might be lifted.

Lamentation and bitter weeping

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Destroying the Shrine of Jonah

Thus saith the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were no more.”

And so it has come to pass. In lands where Christians have lived for longer than any other, they are being driven forth onto the highways and the byways, seeking refuge where they can; after countless generations, the Cross departs. At this stage was cannot know for how long, and in faith, we know that this exile, like all others in this vale of tears, will end, and that when He comes again in glory, all will be restored, and all that was lost will be found, and all who mourn will be comforted, and the people of God will dwell with Him forever. In the meantime, the unravelling of the Middle East created a century ago proceeds apace.

The breaking of the Ottoman Empire was a slow and painful progress, first for the Christians, and latterly, in the great war which began in 1911 and ended in 1923, for the Turks and for all Ottoman subjects. History as we receive it in the West tends to highlight certain incidents – the massacres during the Greek wars of independence in the 1820s; the ‘Bulgarian massacres’ of 1876; and the Armenian genocide of 1915; but this is to mislead. These things happened, they were ghastly, but they happened because of the impact of the West on the Ottoman Empire; they were the frightened and violent reactions of an Empire which was threatened by forces it could neither control nor combat. The Western concept of nationalism was not one native to the Ottomans, a multi-racial Empire which was happy for its subjects to be represented by their religious affiliation, but which insisted on loyalty to the Sultan. The messy realities of what lay beneath the various nationalisms have been worked out across the last century and a half; as the wars in the former Yugoslavia revealed, and as the wars in Iraq and Syria and Libya show, attempts to map onto the Ottoman situation Western ideas of what a nation state should be have been, shall we say, unsuccessful?

In the nineteenth century, the Syriac Church reached out to the British Government for help, and during the Iraqi Mandate in the 1920s, the Assyrian Christians were the mainstay of the British militia – and, as with so many who have trusted to the British Crown, they were let down when we left the country and left to the mercy of their old opponents. As the lines drawn on the map by Sir Percy Sykes and George Picot are rubbed out, the British, the Europeans and the Americans must do more than stand by and shrug their shoulders. As Kate Maltby suggests in the Telegraph, there must be an attempt made to work with the Kurds to provide a safe haven for the Iraqi Christians. There are things diplomacy can accomplish, but here, unless we forget about demonising Russia and Iran, unless we turn away from the diplomatic paradigms which have already done so much harm, then the ancient Christians communities of this region will be extinguished. Anyone who imagines that ISIS will stop there needs to wake up and take cognisance of what their aims are. Absurd that anyone should imagine they can extinguish a whole people or creed? That was what people used to say about Hitler and his views on the Jews.

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