Semen est sanguis christianorum

Terrorism is rife all over the world; the churches themselves are not respected by the killers. Father Roman helps us to take a step back and bring these sad events a Christian look.

It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in recent weeks in Nice (France) and Vienna (Austria). Our pain is all the greater as these horrific acts of violence have affected, among others, religiously committed people who worked daily in a parish community. Immediately after these dramatic events, the hierarchy of the Church spoke. Bishop André Marceau of Nice urged the faithful to personal conversion and forgiveness. Monsignor Jean-Louis Balsa (of the Diocese of Viviers), born in the Diocese of Nice, called in one of the local newspapers that the attack in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption in Nice should not be solely associated with the religious confrontation between Islam and Christianity. He stressed that terrorist acts are rather an expression of a clash between followers of radical Islamism and the secularized culture of the modern world. Finally, the Cardinal of Vienna, Monsignor Christophe Schonborn, at a prayer service in St. Stephen's Cathedral, invited all people of good will to make gestures of solidarity.

There is no doubt that terrorism that threatens, injures and kills indiscriminately, generates fear, panic and pessimism. Moreover, it is in profound contradiction with justice and love between men (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2297). How, then, should Christians respond to acts of violence that often directly affect them? Pope Francis, in the recently published encyclical Fratelli tutti, invites us "to discover spaces where we can discuss and act together for the common good and the promotion of the poorest."  He also recalls that the faithful of the Catholic Church are invited to return to their roots to focus on the essential:        " worship of God and love for our neighbour, lest some of our teachings, taken out of context, end up feeding forms of contempt, hatred, xenophobia or negation of others. The truth is that violence has no basis in our fundamental religious convictions, but only in their distortion "(Fratelli tutti, 282)

If you look at the personal attitude of the heart towards another person, you have to pay attention to two other issues.  First, following the Holy Father's thinking, in assessing the current situation in the world, we must remember the complex causes of terrorism, including the evil policies of states "linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and arrogance"  (Fratelli tutti, 283). And, as disciples of the Gospel of Christ, let us remember that over the centuries, "the blood of martyrs has become the seed of Christians"(Holy Tertullian).

Father Roman Chromy

Spiritual advisor to LAI's Europe coordination