Thursday, November 09, 2006

Silence and the cry of the Martyrs

A CHRISTIAN PRIEST in Iraq was dismembered and beheaded by radical Islamists a few weeks ago as a reaction against Pope Benedict's August comments about Islam. But Western church groups, more focused on denouncing the U.S. presence in Iraq than on criticizing radical Islam, have said virtually nothing about the atrocity.

The ordeal began on October 9, when Father Boulos Islander Behnam of the Syrian Orthodox St. Ephrem Church in Mosul was abducted on the street. The kidnappers demanded $350,000 in ransom from the priest's family but apparently reduced the amount to $40,000 if the priest's church would agree to denounce the Pope's criticism of Islam. Already having publicly distanced itself from the Pope's remarks, the St. Ephrem congregation dutifully mounted 30 billboards around Mosul criticizing the Pope. Meanwhile, his family raised the ransom money.

None of this satisfied the kidnappers. Within 48 hours Father Behnam's corpse was discovered, his severed arms and legs, along with his head, placed on his torso. His arms showed signs of torture. Reportedly, his killers phoned his widow, informing her that her husband deserved to die because he refused to convert to Islam. Five hundred people attended his funeral.

Churches in the Middle East are always hovering on the edge of disaster, with ruling regimes not always anxious to protect them. They are often--and understandably--reluctant to discuss their Islamist persecutors. What is less understandable is the non-reaction of many Western church groups, who live in safety.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Visibilium said...

Evangelicals have recently stepped up to the plate in Kosovo, for which we owe them thanks. They stepped up, however, only after becoming acquainted with the situation through personal contact with Bishop Artemije.

We should expect ahistorical Evangelicals to discover Eastern Christianity only through personal appeals.