Where the Vatican’s Call for Military Intervention in Iraq Is Headed
In recent weeks the world has finally started to pay serious attention to the barbarism of the Islamic State, the radical Islamist group taking over Iraq and Syria. The growing outcry includes voices from Pope Francis and the Vatican, who are concerned about the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.
Criticized for his weak, uncommitted response to the Islamic State, the pope appears to be changing his tune.
During his Sunday blessing on August 10, “Pope Francis used unusually strong language to condemn the actions of [the Islamic State],” according to the Guardian (emphasis added throughout). “Unusually strong language” is probably an overstatement by the Guardian. Compared to previous popes, and considering the dramatic cruelty of the terrorist group, it is easier to make the case that Francis’s remarks are merely stronger than they were before.
However, the pope’s remarks, and some recent decisions made by the Vatican, clearly reveal that the Vatican is toughening its stance.
Internal encouragement added to external pressure have prompted the pope to speak out.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the president handling Eastern Catholic churches, in his August 7 statement published by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches thanked the pope for his “attentive closeness” to the developing situation and called the Islamic State’s actions “acts against God.”
Catholic.org, a hub for the dissemination of Catholic news, has kept its readers abreast of developments in Iraq. The website has even provided gory photos of brutality it believes are a result of the Islamic State’s violence. Many of the victims are women and children.
One caption for a photo of a decapitated little girl exhorts: “All humanity owes a debt to this baby girl, to find her murderers and bring them to justice, dead or alive. That the nations of the world and its citizens sit complacent is the greatest embarrassment to civilization and should be the source of deep shame to all. Everything less that we do … pales by comparison. We have a moral imperative to act.”
This past Monday, while returning from a five-day trip to South Korea, Francis continued his push for Western intervention by suggesting that the West must stop the Islamic State with whatever legal means available. “Where there is unjust aggression,” he told reporters, “I am not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ but ‘stop him.’ The means by which he can be stopped must be evaluated. Stopping the aggressor is legitimate.”
USA Today noted that Francis’s remarks were “a rare pronouncement that goes against the Vatican’s usual guidance against the use of force.” As the article goes on to explain, just last year during an open-air August mass, Francis objected to the idea of military intervention in Syria stating, “Violence and war are never the way to peace.”
Sometime last week Francis also wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in what Britain’s Daily Mail described as “an ‘urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway.’” Francis wrote, “The tragic experiences of the 20th century, and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.”
Many have taken Francis’s ongoing comments as a push for war.
In what could be a related response to Vatican efforts to generate a response to the Islamic State, Germany has also agreed “in principle” to send various armaments to Kurdish forces fighting the terrorist group. Currently, the militants are better armed with superior American military equipment and weapons obtained from retreating Iraqi forces. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier explained that the barbaric violence in Iraq and the growing threat to Europe was the reason for the decision. European leaders are concerned that the Islamic State will advance further; thus, putting Kurdish forces on an equal or better footing with the terrorist group is a growing priority.
If Germany does send armaments to the region, it will join other European nations, including France, which has already sent arms to Kurdish fighters. Italy is also contemplating sending used machine guns, ammunition and anti-tank rockets.
Such braggadocio is sure to have gained the Vatican’s attention. “Rome” is a code word for the Vatican and the Catholic religion. So we should expect the Vatican to continue to marshal its considerable political power and influence against the Islamic State and radical Islamic terror.
As the butchering and pillaging in Iraq continues, and as the Islamic State’s threats against Europe grow, the Vatican will strengthen its own calls for action. Someone must fill the vacuum created by the astonishing decline of American power. Prophecy boldly states that void will be filled by Germany, guided by the Vatican. In the future, expect Europe and Germany take the lead in dealing with the Islamic State’s threat.
To learn more, read editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s recent Trumpet article “The Dark Side of the Pope’s Visit to Jerusalem.”