As I read Pope Francis’ address to diplomats on the occasion of our Christmas celebration of the Nativity of Jesus and of the Holy Innocents whose deaths helped save Jesus, and his call for the Muslim world to unite in opposing those who falsely perpetrate violence in the name of religions, it occurred to me that what is happening in the Muslim world, in countries where Muslims are in the majority, is similar to what in the past happened in Germany as the National Socialist Party slowly rose to power.
The Nazis, from the first even when they were but a minor and almost
insignificant party and they could have easily been snuffed out, they
expertly and strategically employed harsh brutality to radiate an aura
of irresistible power. With time they became increasingly audacious and
dangerous; so that citizens quickly withdrew into silence, hoping that
if they remained quiet and unnoticed they might escape becoming victims
of that violence.
Well, they were wrong and no one escaped suffering the dire
consequences of the Nazis rising to power. It seems to me that something
similar is happening now, first in Muslim nations, but also on the
world stage. The tactics of these new brutes employing terror to impose
their agenda on others are much the same: pound to a pulp anyone who
gets in the way, speaks up, or opposes, or simply kill them, and
brutally, for maximum effect. Legitimate laws are abused and employed
for such dishonest motives as to eliminate business competitors, or
neighbors one doesn’t like, or people of another faith, or just on a
whim… and those accused often don’t get a chance to get to court because
the simple fact of the accusation stirs up the mob into fury and
vigilante terrorist acts are perpetrated.
Lest we fall into a “holier than thou” attitude we need to remember
that in our own European past, in the Middle Ages there was a practice
known as the “hue and cry”. If someone raised the alarm and shouted out
“thief” or “murder” or “fire” or some such trouble the people of the
village or town would drop everything and come running to the sound.
Once a few details were given about the alleged perpetrator, the newly
excited mob would go on a rampage and seek out the party accused of the
wrongdoing. It was known to happen that once the unfortunate accused was
found, depending on how they appeared to the crowd, they were found to
“look guilty” and beaten or even killed on the spot. It was too bad if
later it was discovered that the truth was not quite as presented.
Such social mechanisms can be exploited as convenient ways to get rid
of people you don’t like. In a society of law and order the truth can
at some point be established and those guilty of making false
accusations taken to justice. However, when a society is a theocracy –
not unlike Middle Ages Europe – the power or order and justice can be
wielded by those deemed to have religious authority.
In some places on
Earth at this time it seems sufficient for a person to claim to speak
for a god or his representative for them to enjoy the blind and total
following of crowds or mobs of those well disposed to experience the
“rush” of carrying out extreme actions for ideological reasons.
Even if this view of things is only partially true, don’t you think,
dear reader, that our brothers and sisters, especially Muslims, living
in theocratic nations, are in need of our prayerful support before God,
that He may give them the light and grace they need to resist the terror
tactics of this new breed of ideological power hungry fanatics?
“Father in Heaven, we pray for all those of our brothers and sisters
living on Earth in our generations who are subject to fear at the sight
of brutal acts carried out against neighbors or under the growing
influence of individuals and groups using brutality in the name of
religious ideology to eliminate those they want to get rid of,
especially those of other faiths. You are the only true God, and all
power is Yours, and You have given all power to your divine Son,
incarnate in Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead and Judge of the nations.
Have mercy, we pray on all those in fear of their lives in the face of
brutality: fill them with your light and the strength of your Spirit to
oppose the darkness and stand for goodness and truth. Pour out your
Spirit once again upon all mankind for the humiliation of all doers of
evil and for the raising up of your true children, in the holy Name of
Jesus, your Son, our Lord. Amen!”
“O Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Help of Christians, pray for us and for all mankind. Amen.”