The Vatican, in its initial reaction to the terrorist bombings in Paris, condemned the attacks, calling for “a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.” But the Church does not expand upon what form that response should take.
While Catholic leaders around the world are condemning the terrorist attacks, offering prayers and condolences, they do so without offering any concrete plans for action.
“The time has come for the world to stand united against terrorism and to confront the reasons of terrorism, such as feelings of oppression, hatred, bad education and fanaticism, with no double standards,” said the Jerusalem-based Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land.
They called for a unification of “forces of good” and “countries and followers of all religions against violence, which hits the world with increased brutality.” Otherwise, they said, it will hit everyone “sooner or later.”
All fine and good, but how do they do that?
Meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. Catholic bishops pledged their prayers for those killed and injured at three sites in France’s capital and voiced their support for those “working to build just and peaceful societies.”
Meanwhile, grief at the terror atrocities in Paris was being expressed on a global scale, with church leaders from Scotland to South Korea sending messages of condolences to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris.
Perhaps, the closest bit of practical advice came from Father Patrick Daly, general secretary of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, who issued a statement urging the countries of the bloc to respond to the crisis together.
“It is vital that Europe presents a united front to the terrorist threat, that it be united, too, in its foreign and defense policy,” he said from Brussels.
“The forces which currently threaten Europe do not respect national borders,” he continued. “It is imperative that the 28 member states of the EU act together more effectively. Our collective security is at issue, as is our freedom to live together in peace.”
Religious leaders express solidarity and compassion with those in harm’s way. Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, actually calls for military force to defeat ISIS. In an interview with La Croix magazine, he said, “In reaction, what is needed is a general mobilization of France, of Europe, and of the whole world. A mobilization of all means of security, of police forces, and of information, to root out this evil of terrorism.”
Leaders in the United States can’t even agree upon who the enemy is. The president refers to the purveyors of evil with one name, the Secretary of State another, while everyone else in the country calls them by another.
Russia launches its own attacks upon who it perceives to be the enemy. France has now unleashed its weaponry upon some other sites. Everyone seems to be striking out in a different direction.
The rest of us sit and wait for the next terrorist attack, hoping it will not be too close to our own homes.
Even the pope, a man of peace, admits something has to be done to combat the slaughter of innocent people.
The response has got to be a united one, involving even Muslim nations, says Cardinal Parolin. The question remains, however – who will lead the charge against evil with the assurance that all lovers of good will follow?