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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Vatican Denounces Islamic Caliphate Crimes

The Vatican denounced the crimes of the Islamic Caliphate, with a strongly-worded Declaration by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

This is the text of the Declaration on the jihadist violence in Iraq, issued on 12 August 2014, translated from the Italian from the Vatican News website:
The whole world has witnessed in shock what is now called the "restoration of the Caliphate," which had been abolished on 29 October 1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. That this "restoration" is contested by the the majority of Muslim religious and political institutions has not prevented the "Islamic State" jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, as well as men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices unworthy of man:
  • the massacre of people for the sole reason of their religious affiliation;
  • the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;
  • the imposition on Christians and Yezidis of the choice among conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;
  • the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;
  • the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);
  • the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;
  • the destruction of Christian and Muslim places of worship and burial places;
  • the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;
  • the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other religious communities;
  • the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;
  • appalling violence aimed at terrorising people to force them to surrender or flee.
No cause, and certainly no religion, could justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offence against humanity and against God who is its Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us.

We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have been able to live together - although, it's true, with ups and downs - over the centuries, building a culture of coexistence and a civilisation of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities who are minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, of people engaged in interreligious dialogue and of all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the appeal to religion to justify them. What credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have, otherwise? What credibility could the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years still have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with rulers to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to re-establish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical guidance in the management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism are morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it. Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: "May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace!

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