Rorate Caeli

IMPORTANT: Pope Francis: "On many occasions I find myself in a crisis of faith", even as Pope; DENIES there is Christian genocide in the Middle East

How dare you call this a sign of genocide?!
From the very beginning, before almost anyone else dared call what has been happening to Christians under ISIS "genocide", this page sounded the call: with our identification with "Nun, the sign of genocide", and our explanation on why it is genocide: "It's over: Genocide has been accomplished." (on why the word is deliberately and appropriately used, based on the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

The last 3 days has seen much of the Catholic commentariat scramble to analyze, to critique, or -- in some cases -- to break the limits of intelligence and plain common sense in order to defend Francis' remarks on marriage and cohabitation (June 16) as "orthodox" or profoundly "pastoral", or even as presaging some sort of doctrinal "deepening" or "development". This has resulted in Pope Francis' scarcely less explosive statements on Saturday, June 18, at Villa Nazareth University College getting buried in the news. He spoke these in a rambling Q & A in front of a large audience mostly of young men and women. 

Don't go to the Vatican website to read what he said. It only has his short speech before a smaller group, and not his long Q&A afterwards with the youth, in front of a far bigger crowd. The full video is on the Vatican Youtube channel (Visit to the Villa Nazareth University College - 2016.06.18). His remarks on genocide come shortly after 1:05:50 and on the crisis of faith shortly after 1:17:30.

From the Vatican Insider article, "I don’t like it when some speak of the genocide of Christians” (06/19/2016):

On Saturday afternoon Pope Francis visited Villa Nazareth in the Pineta Sacchetti area of Rome. Villa Nazareth was founded in 1946 for orphans and poor children in order to provide the underprivileged with educational opportunities. Today Villa Nazareth helps young people who are experiencing economic hardship but who also show great intellectual potential. It provides them with a program of Christian formation and inspiration, Vatican Radio informs. The institution’s charism, its mission, is to promote a “diaconate of culture” and to form people who can be role models in society as moral witnesses. The Pope was accompanied on his visit by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. (...) 

 Francis is not keen on the use of the word “genocide” to describe the situation faced by christians in the Middle East: “I don’t like it - I wish to make this very clear -,” Francis said adopting a very serious tone, “when some refer to what is happening to Christians in the Middle East as a genocide. This is reductionism.” “Let us not turn a mystery of the faith, a form of martyrdom, into sociological reductionism,” he warned. “Those Christian Copts who had their throats slashed on the Libyan coast, all of them died saying ”Jesus, help me”. I am sure that the majority of them didn’t even know how to read but they were but doctors of Christian coherence, they were witnesses of the faith, in other words witnesses of the faith and the faith leads us to bear witness to so many difficult things in life.” “We shouldn’t fool ourselves,” “cruel martyrdom” isn’t the only way to give testimony of the Christian faith. There are more martyrs today than in centuries passed, today there is an everyday martyrdom, the martyrdom of patience, children’s education and faithfulness in love.”  (...)

Christians who “have not experienced a crisis of faith are missing something”. “On many occasions I find myself in a crisis of faith. Sometimes I’ve questioned Jesus and even doubted. Is this really the truth? Is it a dream?” This happened to him when he was “a boy, a seminarian, a religious, a priest, a bishop and even now [he is] Pope” 

Crux adds the following to the record of Francis' remarks on crises of faith in its report (Pope says ‘martyrdom, not ‘genocide,’ is the best word) on the same Q & A:

Francis’s response regarding Christian martyrdom came when one of those present asked him if he’d ever had a “crisis of faith” amidst what’s going on in the world, included the suffering of Christians. 

The pontiff defined the question as a “courageous” one to ask a pope, and then admitted that “many times I find myself in a crisis of faith. Some times I’ve questioned Jesus: ‘But why do you allow this?’”

Acknowledging that these crises of faith are something he’s experienced through all his life, “as a kid, as a religious, as a priest, as a bishop, and as pope,” Francis said that a Christian “who hasn’t doubts, who hasn’t had a crisis of faith, is a Christian who’s missing something… he’s a Christian who settles with a bit of worldliness and goes through life like this.”

It is one thing for a Pope to wrestle in private with doubts and crises of faith. Many good Catholics, including some saints, may have wrestled with intense temptations to their faith, or have been honestly perplexed by difficulties and questions regarding belief, or have keenly felt a perceived (not actual) abandonment by God, or have cried out to God in the presence of so much evil in this world, or perhaps have fallen into actual doubt -- albeit repenting of it later. It is another thing for a Pope not only to broadcast it in public that he does experience crises of faith even as Pope, but also to insult those who, by God's grace, have never had a crisis of faith. Perhaps the Pope meant to be sympathetic to those experiencing a crisis of faith, but there are so many ways to comfort those who have this experience without encouraging it. He gave these remarks to an audience of young people who are being formed to become moral witnesses; will some of them eventually lose the faith after entertaining doubts because, after all, the Pope told them it was acceptable? Let us pray for them. 

If the Pope is having periodic crises of faith, should this not spur him to be extremely circumspect with what he says, and should this not raise questions about the real state of his mind when he gives his most damaging and scandalous remarks? 

Pope Francis' explicit denial that Christians in the Middle East are experiencing genocide also flies in the face of numerous testimonies about the specific manner in which Christians have been singled out for forced conversion or annihilation by ISIS and other jihadist groups that are just as murderous. Francis would like us to limit ourselves to saying that the Christians of the Middle East are undergoing martyrdom. Well, Christians have been continually martyred in the Middle East since the hordes of the first Caliphs swept out of the sands of Arabia, nearly 1,400 years ago. The reason we now speak of "genocide" against them is because the level of repression there of Christians by Muslims is reaching levels unheard of since the Armenian and Assyrian genocides nearly a century ago. Even if Christians are not the only religious minority experiencing genocide at the hands of Islamists in Syria and Iraq (the Yazidis come to mind), this does not erase the fact that they are experiencing genocide. 

Secular groups such as the International Association of Genocide Scholars and even the US House of Representatives (by unanimous vote) have recognized that Christians in the Middle East are suffering genocide, making the Pope's genocide denial all the more galling and insensitive. (We invite our readers to see for themselves the Knight of Columbus' and In Defense of Christians' study: GENOCIDE AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST published earlier this year.)