The Corner

Re: Biden & the Gates of Hell

As Jonah notes, the vice president didn’t quite make sense – theologically or otherwise. But while it’s not quite the leadership the world needs, at least he took note that something gravely evil is happening. 

This is why people (at least in my travels) have long taken a liking to Biden, despite so much: because at least he has what seem to have some appropriate reactions to things now and again. In this particular case, at least you got an immediate sense from him something terrible has happened.

Voices should be raised against this evil.

Elizabeth Scalia has been blogging up a storm for just this reason.

A Christian and a Jew, two American journalists, have now been executed by the Islamic State. The lives of James Foley and now Steven Sotloff (the grandson of Holocaust survivors who in captivity pretended he was sick so that he could fast) cannot be forgotten.

We cannot afford to be distracted (as we have been).

To forget, to look away, is to contribute to a cheapening of life. It is, as has been argued, complicity.

Pope Francis recently called Father Behnam Benoka, a priest from Mosul, who was until recently vice-rector of a seminary there. He is currently ministering in a refugee camp. A journalist, a friend of the priest, handed the pope a letter on the plane ride back from Korea a few weeks ago.

In his letter to the Pope, the priest expressed gratitude for the Pope’s repeated appeals to end the suffering and persecution of Christians and described the tragic situation faced by thousands of Iraqi Christians: “The situation of your sheep is miserable. They die and they are hungry. Your little ones are scared and cannot do it anymore. We, priests, religious, are few and fear not being able to meet the physical and mental needs of your and our children.”

“Your Holiness,” he continued, “I’m afraid of losing your children, especially infants who every day struggle and weaken more. I’m afraid that death will snatch some away. Send us your blessing so that we may have the strength to go on and maybe we can still resist.”

God bless these people.

What can a person here in the U.S. do? For starters, people of faith have got to be praying. The pope’s prayer for their perseverance, which he reportedly expressed to Fr. Benoka, can be an ecumenical one.

Perseverance has to come on our end, too. It’s some indication of how bad things are when Pope Francis has to urge us to protect these people.

My friend Sheila Liaugminas (do you know about her book? Q&A here) has some ideas here.

Our Sunday Visitor has thoughts here (and a typically wise item from another friend, Greg Erlandson).

And do you know about Aid to the Church in Need?

Since a series of events in Fatima not all that long ago, Catholics have added a short prayer that includes “save us from the fires of hell” to our Rosary praying. Those fires consume parts of our world — and even our hearts — today and Heaven help us if our consciences (more on that here) are not on high alert.

Look around – see the faces of Foley and Sotloff, read dispatches from Dominican sisters on the run, who are asking: “Is the world deaf and blind?” and we can finally begin to see why Pope Francis keeps talking about weeping, can’t we?

God help us if those of us who claim to be believers in God — and those of us who claim to be Christian in a particular way –do not use the power we have at our disposal: our faith and belief in prayer for, yes, perseverance, consolation, courage, wisdom, justice, and peace in so many different ways, in so many different places.

Hope is leadership you don’t have to be vice president to provide.

UPDATE: One p.s. over on Patheos.

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