25 DECEMBER 2013 (ORCNS) - The address of the Patriarch of Saint Stephen, Cardinal Rutherford Johnson, to the members of the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham today centered on the situation facing the Christian population of Syria. Citing the words of Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Johnson indicated the need for action by the world governments. The full text of the address is provided below.
Patriarchal Address on the Feast of the Nativity of O.L.J.C.
To the members of the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham,
Greetings and Apostolic blessings on this Feast of the Nativity in the year of our Lord 2013. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, it was a time of great unrest and conflict in what we now know as the Holy Land. This Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus while there is again great unrest in that region of the world. The Christian people of Syria have been hounded, harassed, attacked, and persecuted in this past year, creating many martyrs and refugees, and placing one of the oldest Christian sites in grave peril of irrecoverable loss. What do the governments of the world do as a whole? They remain silent. They do nothing. We can be reasonably assured that had it been Muslims being persecuted or killed, there would have been a loud outcry from the governments demanding that it cease and threatening military intervention or economic sanctions. We see here, then, the evidence of the power of the Cross. The world loves its own and hates what is not of the world, and thus despises the Cross and all the faithful in Christ. The forces of darkness are ever-ready to seek the destruction of the Church wherever they find opportunity. Sometimes the mechanisms are subtle and even imperceptible to most. In Syria, it is direct violence and brutality by Islamists. We ask again: where are the voices of outrage in the international community? Where are the widespread voices of outrage even within the Christian communities of the world? Where are the calls to action?
Over 900 years ago, when the Christian people in the region of the Holy Land were threatened and harassed by expanding Islamic rule, such a call to action was issued by the highest authority in Christendom. In 1095, Pope Urban II issued the first call to Crusade, beginning the first of more than ten such efforts of the high middle ages. The Crusades of that time were first and foremost military actions undertaken with great moral imperative to free the Holy Land from the Muslims and to defend the many pilgrims to the Holy Land. What is our sacred duty to protect we must protect indeed. There ought to be no apology for that in general, and, unfortunate abuses due to the fallen state of mankind notwithstanding, there ought to be no apology for the Crusades. As direct successors to the legacy of the knights of the Holy Church who fought before the Cross, this Patriarchate certainly issues no such apology. Rather, we praise and commend the efforts of all who fought with pure heart against the enemies of the Christian Faith in order to preserve the Church, protect the faithful, and ultimately save lives.
Where, then, we ask yet again, is the call to action to defend the Christian Church in our age? Where is the outrage demanding that action be taken in Syria to institute freedom and defend life? Why does the prevailing attitude among at least vocal Christians seem to be one of weak capitulation and begging pardon for defense of the Faith? Remember the words of the Holy Father Pius XII when he issued the reminder that the Church on earth is known as the Church Militant because "...on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass her destruction. Not only in the far-off centuries of the early Church, but down through the ages and in this our day, the enemies of God and Christian civilization make bold to attack the Creator’s supreme dominion and sacrosanct human rights."
The clergy of Christ's Holy Church are leaders in what Pius XII termed the militia of the faithful. Let this holy and spiritual militia of today indeed stand firm against the forces of darkness around the world, inspired by the Passion of our Lord, the blood of the martyrs, the wisdom of the Doctors, the words and deeds of the Confessors, and the example of the shepherds of the flock. Let the powers of the civilized and Christian world likewise stand firm against evil and, in this present situation, stand firm against those who persecute and destroy the Christian civilization of Syria. To the clergy and faithful we admonish prayer; the rosary, novenas, private orations, and the most powerful prayer of all, the Holy Mass. Let us all offer our prayers and service ceaselessly in this never-ending conflict into which the Church Militant has been plunged and will remain until the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory.
May the blessing of Almighty God, the + Father, + Son, and Holy + Ghost, be upon you and remain with you always. R. Amen.