Dec 06, 2023
Dec 06, 2023
More by : Suresh Mandan
|Thanks for enlighting me on this subject. I liked "Christians are not a valuable asset..........."|
|Interesting article, but it perhaps has lost sight of the fact that the true Christian mentality is essentially one of non-attachment to the values of this world, where death is seen as the moment of liberation from its trials and temptations. |
When Christianity is viewed as a religion whose end is accommodation in a given society, apart from its role as a witness to Christ, it loses its bearings. Like St Paul, who invoked his rights as a Roman citizen to escape harm to his person, so Christians believe that their lives as witness to Christ implies a full term of years in a given society like everyone else, to give a sustained witness.
The interpretation of Christianity indeed has come to assume one of living the good life here on earth, meaning fulfilled expectation in every department, through the power of the risen Christ – as specified, for example, in the grace before and after meals.
However, at a given point in history, there arise powers that appear to override the divinely ordained status quo of what, today, are called democratic principles, considered by Christians as a fulfilment of Christian charity, accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit working in the world in succeeding generations of humanity; whose achievement is the present state of world-wide recognition of human rights, and the freedom and equality of all citizens before the law – with few exceptions, particularly, as cited, in Islamic countries.
When affecting Christians, the times of persecution and martyrdom are considered in Christian history as 'times of grace' - permitted by God, as indeed is every action that takes place, to show forth the glory of Christian witness, the martyrs’ crown.
It implies Christians should properly rejoice in persecution, because Christ identifies himself with the persecuted Christian: in His own words: 'Inasmuch as you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me.' Matt 25:40.
You mention the pope, whose concern is the tending of Christ’s flock. Throughout history popes have tended to protect not merely the spiritual interests but the welfare of the flock in their charge. The most effective way of achieving the latter is papal acceptance that secular authority is representative of God’s authority in the temporal sphere: thus the pope has over the course of centuries come to narrow his remit to issues of faith and morals, as we see in his stance on birth control; but not on nuclear non-proliferation, in which he just holds an opinion that is not binding on Catholics.
In this way, Christian witness is achieved that poses no threat to the lives of Christians in secular society. After all, it is funds from the secular arm of the church in the laity that supports it as an institution.
In Islamic societies where there is persecution of Catholics, as you cite, neither does the pope cry out for Christians to be martyrs! That is left to Almighty God to arrange using the instruments of persecution in a given society. The pope still doesn’t proclaim that martyrdom is glorious, but it is doctrinally his belief. It is possibly this ambivalence that explains the pope’s reticence in confronting civil, even Islamic, authority as cited.
In the case of western governments not protecting the rights of Christians in foreign countries where they are being persecuted by a given regime, the matter is simply inability to achieve results through any course of action save diplomatic entreaty. Christians are not a valuable asset like oil to be profited from. And it is easily forgotten that Christians by definition belong to Christ, and that is the real source of their protection: like martyrdom, we should not be swayed by the appearances of gloom and despair the plight of Christians poses: but always bear in mind that Christ Risen is present, a living person, God no less. No Christian could hope or ask for more.
However, referring to the numerous instances you cite, it is difficult to reconcile the rape of women with Christian witness. It would appear smug to say that God permits this, since that is the argument of the perpetrators with their own faith in an Islamic God, and the outcome would appear to confirm the latter. This would appear to occasion a dilemma in the person raped, as to whether her Christian faith is true – since she should be liberated by Christ present. It is easy to see a Christian martyred as liberated through death, even though this is technically being overpowered by the forces of persecution; but a Christian woman who is raped has to continue living, a living death. Here, as an unwitting spectator, one has to admit lack of comprehension only one’s personal Christian faith can overcome in an argument ‘beyond understanding’; indeed, as applies in the case of the raped woman, whose secrets of the heart we are not privy to, as she continues life in her forced conversion circumstances.