Rorate Caeli

"Let us speak frankly of those who want to kill us"

His wrath upon their heads


The blood of Baghdad screams out to heaven and earth.

There has been an orgy of violence in Iraq this week, as terrorists have set off a series of bombs, murdering well over 100 people. But what happened last Sunday was so utterly horrific that it merits special, and thunderous, condemnation, backed up with lethal force if necessary.

On Sunday, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group stormed into the cathedral of the Syriac Catholic Church, Our Lady of Deliverance, during the evening Mass. They immediately killed the priest offering the Holy Mass – three priests in all were murdered. They began shooting members of the congregation, and held hostage others who took refuge in a locked room. When the security forces stormed the church, the jihadists killed as many as they could, and some of them set off the suicide bombs on their belts.

Close to 60 Catholics were killed. In their cathedral. At Mass. It has now come to this, where Christians are killed at prayer by Muslim fanatics.

Christians have been in Iraq from the earliest centuries, long before there was an Iraq or, one might note, there was Islam. Jihadists have launched a campaign with genocidal intent, aimed at driving out every last Christian from what they consider to be an Islamic land. It is now clear that the only place such jihadists envision for Christians in Iraq is the grave.

The Catholic archbishop has been killed. Priests have been riddled with bullets upon leaving their churches. Ordinary Christians, trying to live a quiet life, have been subject to harassment, threats and violence. Iraq in the aftermath of the American invasion has been particularly dangerous, but antiChristian violence stretches across the Islamic world.

"Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called 'free' world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical," said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan after these latest killings.

Indeed, the international community issued the usual boilerplate condemnations, most of them refusing to identify those responsible. The same statements could have been used had the Rotarians decided to massacre the Salvation Army. In the Church, too, there is often a reluctance to support vigorously Christians under attack, and to call things by name.

"As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations," is how the final statement of the recent Vatican Synod of Bishops on the Middle East characterized Christian-Muslim relations. Imbalances? As in the imbalance between the jihadist throwing the grenade and the Catholic family being blown up?

The blood on the altar makes it clear. No amount of goodwill, no amount of dialogue, no amount of circumlocutory evasions, no amount of supine prostrations – nothing will dissuade the jihadists. So let us not abnegate ourselves over the dead bodies of our fallen brethren in Christ.
Let us speak frankly of those who want to kill us.

Allahu Akbar – God is great! So those Catholics on Sunday heard the jihadists shout in the church. Can there be any greater sacrilege than to kill the innocent at prayer, while shouting that God is great?

The jihadists respect neither man nor God, not even their own. They have killed their fellow Muslims and bombed mosques. The Christians killed on Sunday were Iraqis, their fellow Arabs, their fellow citizens, their neighbours. They kill because they are seized with a murderous hatred. The least we can do is to summon a righteous anger in return.

The Christian always hopes for conversion and offers forgiveness. There must also be justice and prudence, and prudence demands that those who would kill in the name of God are best despatched quickly to their judgment.

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. So Scripture teaches us, and so it must be for us, leaving vengeance to the Lord, and imploring the grace of conversion and reconciliation. But let us not blanch from raising our voices to the Lord, with righteous anger and hot tears, that He might visit His vengeance upon those who did this, bring down His wrath upon their heads and exact upon them a terrifying justice in full measure.

That's not the language of imbalances; it is the anguish and agony of the shepherd when the flock is being slaughtered.


The picture comes from this website.


  1. When I see the pictures on the site to which you link, I feel as if we Christians in the safe, soft West are just playing church. God give us the courage to live as boldly as these whom we dare to call our brothers and sisters. Help is to use the blessings of our freedom and material resources to advance the Gospel of Christ.

  2. Anonymous3:09 AM

    Christians were treated much better under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

  3. Anonymous3:23 AM

    May the Holy Monarch prophecied by the saints rise up and take back all of Europe and the Holy Land from the disease of Islam.

  4. How can a Church like this be left with absolutely no protection? When are we spoiled Catholics in Westerns going to stop allowing our brothers and sisters to be slaughtered? Secular Western states obviously don't care and will enver do anything about it, but surely there are enough Catholics of means and skill to establish a private security company to protect Catholics wherever they're in danger? That's what the Crusaders were, at their best.

  5. Anonymous4:01 AM

    On the human level, there is but one sensible action that Catholics who live in Moslem lands (with few exceptions) can do:

    Get out! Move to non-Islamic countries.

    Our interfaith-minded Churchmen have surrendered to Islam.

    But they could at least arrange a Catholic "Transfer Agreement" with Islamic governments.

    Speaking humanly, as the result of our Churchmen's self-inflicted destruction of Catholicism, Holy Mother Church is incapable of resisting Islam.

    Virtually every Church-related problem stems from our self-inflicted liturgical/ecumenical/interfaith destruction.

    Islam grows as Catholicism shrinks...low birth rates, tens of millions have vacated the Church.

    On top of that, the Church has been feminized.

    Females heft Crosses. Females have overrun the Sanctuary.

    Then there are altar girls

    Islam tramples females.

    Islam tramples post-Vatican II Catholicism.

    Note to Catholics in Islamic countries:

    Get out of Islamic countries before Islam tramples you.

  6. Anonymous4:46 AM

    Give Catholics their own Middle Eastern state. Lebanon will do.

  7. Anonymous4:50 AM

    Each Catholic diocese should build a Catholic Holocaust Museum to remind the world of the horrors of anti-Catholicism.

    Show the world via powerful images the destruction that the world has heaped upon Christ's True Flock.


  8. I put some of the blame on our neo con agenda. American foreign policy serves only one purpose and those who espouse it could care less about the Christians in the Middle East.

    The Church was at least tolerated before our war in Iraq.

  9. I have nothing but admiration for Catholics who choose to stay in Iraq, and a thrill of hope at the realization that such heroes do live in my time and belong to my family (the Church Militant). They are descendants of a great legacy, and have inherited the fortitude of their spiritual ancestors who chose to stay in Rome while all the conniving, bribing, threats, and tortures of the ruling party attempted to eradicate them. May our brothers and sisters in Iraq be strengthened and comforted, may we be inspired to holiness and action by their example, may their persecutors be converted.

  10. Anonymous7:36 AM

    What happened to all the Catholic military orders? Where are they when they're needed?

  11. Anonymous2:33 PM

    If Western powers were serious about stopping attacks on Christians, they could simply deny any funds or aid to any Muslim country until it put an end to such attacks within its borders. This means capturing and jailing or killing all those involved in planning or carrying out attacks (including individuals in the country's government).

    But that's never going to happen. For one thing, the West is becoming increasingly Islamicized, and even though Muslims are in a distinct minority, they wield an enormous amount of power and have influential backers in Western governments (such as the current US president).

    For another, much of the West really isn't opposed to the killing of Christians.

  12. Anonymous2:49 PM

    Unbelievable. And it is totally ignored by the 24/7 american media. The slaughter of Christians doesn't matter.

  13. Joe B2:51 PM

    Well said, Anne.

    Better off under Saddam? The Butcher of Baghdad was butchering somebody, and this East-West, Christian-Islam confrontation has been growing more and more deadly since the state of Israel appeared in the Middle East, not just since the nineties. Saddam wouldn't have prevented this.

    If you don't want to live under Sharia law, better support your local military because there aren't going to be any more Catholic crusades, period. The great reformer was assassinated in 1917.

    And what's wrong with living in peace and prosperity in a land we built? If Catholics in Iraq want to come here, it's easy enough to do. The fact that they stay there is heroic, like Anne said, and we should honor them, not wring our hands out of guilt. We shed our blood over there, and I don't remember hand-wringing over that sacrifice from any of you.

  14. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Our Western "democracies" have of course no intention to react and grant the Iraqi Christians any form of effective protection. France has just announced that it is granting asylum to about 60 Chritian families from Iraq but this is hardly a solution: it will fuel the exodus. What we need are effective measures to ensure the security of the local Christians in their own homeland. As far as I know, just one association collects money to help the local Christians stay in Iraq: it is called UNEC (Union des Nations de l'Europe Chrétienne).

  15. Anonymous4:22 PM

    More proof that islam is a bankrupt "religion." it is not great, it foments violence. You never see Christian majorities (as in the U.S.) slaughtering muslim minorities. the problem is the Koran itself and the violent nature of the founder.

  16. Thank you, Mr. Bush.

  17. Don't forget--it is not just Catholics in the Middle East and Iraq.

    There are other Christians: Orthodox, Non-Chalcedonians, and Assyrian Church of the East, and a few Protestants.

    New Martyrs of Baghdad, pray to God for us!

  18. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Al-Qaeda is financed and given its impetus by Saudi Arabia. Our politicians are on the take from the Saudi-Wahhabi clan, so they will never take the necessary actions to end this bloodbath. Demand accountability or throw the bums out!

  19. Anonymous5:27 PM

    "The good shepherd - The faithful and true shepherd, willing to do all that is necessary to defend and save the flock.

    Giveth his life - A shepherd that regarded his flock would hazard his own life to defend them. When the wolf comes, he would still remain to protect them. To give his life, here, means the same as not to fly, or to forsake his flock; to be willing to expose his life, if necessary, to defend them. Compare Judges 12:3; "I put my life in my hands and passed over," etc.; 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21. See John 10:15. The Messiah was often predicted under the character of a shepherd."

  20. Anonymous6:11 PM

    ...Religion of peace...again!

  21. Cardinal-designate Velasio De Paolis said, in response to one of the previous outrages, in Turkey, I think, that there comes a time when one has to stop turning the other cheek. We have a duty to defend ourselves, he said.

    If you ask me, I would say "now there must be blood."

  22. Anonymous7:16 PM

    How I wish the Crusaders of old would still be around defending our Christian brethren in the Middle East, sadly that is not the case.

    I am afraid that martyrdom has arrived to the Christians of the 21th century and I am not refering only to Iraq.

    May the Lord Almighty give His people the courage to remain steadfast to their faith until the very end.

  23. Anonymous8:26 PM

    "More proof that islam is a bankrupt "religion." it is not great, it foments violence. You never see Christian majorities (as in the U.S.) slaughtering muslim minorities. the problem is the Koran itself and the violent nature of the founder."

    Oh, no. You should realize that we hold Moslems in high esteem.
    Interfaith dialogue with Moslems has reaped tremendous benefits.

    Islam is a fine religion. Right. Yeah. Sure.

  24. Anonymous9:36 PM

    This is the wake up call, right here, right now. Not to pick up arms and fight them back, for that was never the way of our Lord himself, nor is it within the scope of what the 21st century scope can manage.

    However, no believer will be able to say they weren't aware that their life could be asked of them at a moment's notice.


  25. Anonymous9:45 PM

    I believe this is the beginning of sorrows. The devil owns this world; I am called to wisely know the malice will increase through the souls the devil owns. We are at spiritual war.
    Holy Church was both persecuted yet mystically this is holy protection, holy wisdom; martyrs bring conversion; Christ turns evil into good.
    Let us also believe these martyrs are in their crown of victory - THEY ARE MARTYRS! This is a great joy. We are called to believe these things, even when scared.
    We must also calmly trust the murderous souls doomed who kill catholics will be avenged, the Lord of Hosts will do battle for us.
    Let us not lose our focus! We each must attend to our own sins, let not the devil cause us to be so scandalized we watch each other and forget the murderous malice we each have in one mortal sin, a venial sin even.
    Be careful catholics. Be very careful about your own soul. Christ is watching and knows all of this too. Let us leave Him in control and we return to the confessional weekly to obey Him.

  26. Anonymous11:11 PM

    When Hussein was in charge, Christians were safe in Iraq and were among leading citizens.

    Christians in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria live in peace.

  27. Anonymous11:11 PM

    And yet the Pope will insist on talking nice about Islam.

    And gestures like John Paul II kissing the Koran.

    If Catholics maintained their tradition proudly, like for the last 1,000 years before Vatican II, the Church, and Catholics would be respected.
    Not reviled because of endless crises and scandals, humiliated, and slaughtered.
    Vatican II, and the errors of inter-religious dialog are to blame for this.
    Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Protestantism, should be held in the same regard neld for 500 (for protestants), and 1,000 years for the others as they were before Vatican II.

  28. I trust the Vatican won't let this event hinder the drive for further mutual comprehension through inter-religious dialogue.

    Or perhaps this will inspire the Church to double its efforts to convert the islamists. This would be the exact same amount of effort, by the way.

    Seriously though, a number of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been welcomed into heaven wearing martyrs' crowns. Certainly this is cause for some rejoicing.

  29. Anonymous3:18 AM

    The idea that under Saddam Christians were safer might be true, but to express it as a longing for his thoroughly corrupt, murderous thugocracy is so radically tribal and un-Christian that I suggest the persons who express such longings seriously re-read the Gospels, or better yet, read them for the first time, because whatever you did with them formerly didn't take.

    Lord, have mercy on us all.

  30. Anonymous4:33 AM

    I spoke to a Muslim a few months ago in regard to Catholicism.

    The Muslim screamed at me.

    He attacked the Church by having referenced "the Vatican's apologies."

    He said that "right there in the Vatican, they said they've been bad for centuries and begged for forgiveness. That's your religion!"

    Ahh, those wonderful and endless apologies from Rome.

    In one way after another, men who govern the Church have attenuated the Catholic religion.

  31. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Time to take arms and fight for Our Lord, as He commanded us!

    "he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip: and he that hath not, let him sell his coat and buy a sword." (Lk 22:36)

    Time for buying swords has come!

  32. I couldn't help but notice that our good friend, Novus-Ordo-"Conservative" Canadian priest Fr. Raymond declined to name Islam in this article in which he demanded that the Church begin "speaking frankly about those who want to kill us", and decried the habitual circumlocution of the authorities in the Church.

  33. Anonymous2:04 PM

    I second Anon 03:18. Some here pine for the days of Saddam Hussein, "Christians were treated much better under the rule of Saddam Hussein," and the like.

    I don't think the Kurds, marsh Arabs, and neighboring Iranians would agree with you that times were better then since tens of thousands of them were slaughtered under Saddam.

    Quite a novel reading of the Fifth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill Catholics but all others are fair game.

    This has nothing to do with Saddam, the U.S. invasion, or the pastor in Florida who threatened to burn Korans and everything to do with a militant and resurgent Islam. The time for buying swords has indeed arrived.


  34. Tacitus4:38 PM

    This is from the Apostolic Exhortation linked to in a post above this one:

    Dialogue between Christians and Muslims

    118. Among the various religions the Church also looks with respect to Muslims, who adore the one God. They look to Abraham and worship God above all through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. We acknowledge that the Islamic tradition includes countless biblical figures, symbols and themes. Taking up the efforts begun by the Venerable John Paul II, I express my hope that
    the trust-filled relationships established between Christians and Muslims over the years will continue to develop in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue. In this dialogue the Synod asked for a deeper reflection on respect for life as a fundamental
    value, the inalienable rights of men and women, and their equal dignity. Taking into account
    the important distinction to be made between the socio-political order and the religious
    order, the various religions must make their specific contribution to the common good. The
    Synod asked Conferences of Bishops, wherever
    it is appropriate and helpful, to encourage meetings aimed at helping Christians and Muslims to come to better knowledge of one another, in order to promote the values which society needs for
    a peaceful and positive coexistence.

  35. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Once again Tacitus quotes the MISTRANSLATION OF unicum. It does not say the one God. Unicum there means 'one God' and not necessarily the same God. The constant repetition of this error is the very reason why it is a bad idea to quote anything from Vatican II. Let them correct the texts and the translations first.


  36. Anonymous10:56 PM

    The war has been raging on since that first revolt in heaven and it continues until today and it is now more acute especially in our present times.

    My brothers and sisters in Christ we have been given the orders from Heaven to fight the war and Saint Paul gave us the instructions of what we need.

    St. Paul says in Ephesians 6 : 10-18 - "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication."

    Christians of today are not meant to fight with real swords like the Crusades of old but we do have a most powerful double edge sword the Rosary and the Scapular.

    Heaven has spoken are you ready to fight?

  37. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Anonymous, you're wrong. The Muslims are not the Devil, they're corporal enemies with flesh and blood, reason and free will. They're not mindless puppets. For corporal enemies we need corporal swords, like those which Jesus told us to buy.

  38. Anonymous3:30 AM

    "For corporal enemies we need corporal swords, like those which Jesus told us to buy."

    Jesus told us to BUY CORPORAL SWORDS??

    Goodness sakes, what next?


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