Do unto others

ISIS’ war on Christians evokes comparisons to the Holocaust

by Bill Scholl

Hitler would admire ISIS. A recent “60 Minutes” story featured French priest and world-renowned expert on the Holocaust Father Patrick Desbois describing ISIS’ systematic killing of Christians in the Middle East.

“It’s not easy,” he explained, in his accented English, “to manage a war, to manage international terrorism and to manage a genocide in [the] same territory. . . . Hitler, it took him a long time before doing all that. And ISIS, they did it so quickly. . . . It’s frightening because it means actually there is a kind of science of terrorism, war and genocide. They developed a science.” 

Yet we here in the United States have failed to notice that the “final solution” has returned and has set its sights on our Christian brothers and sisters.

Christian communities in communion with the Catholic Church that date back to the first converts made by St. Peter and St. Paul are being systematically annihilated: the elderly executed, the girls sex-trafficked and the children recruited into terrorism.

And while other religious groups, including other Muslims, are victimized by this war, we as Catholics need to pay attention and help as much as we can the persecuted church in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Recently, Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, visited the United States to share the plight of Catholics in Syria. He recounted, “We have seen people killed, slaughtered, women violated, priests and bishops kidnapped, houses destroyed, churches and convents invaded.”

While the geopolitics of these civil wars are aptly Byzantine in their complexity, making it difficult to tell the good guys from the bad, we cannot afford to be indifferent. Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Relief Services have mobilized to help the victims.

While religious persecution worldwide is on the rise, according to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, Christians face religious persecution in more countries than any other religious group.

Because of ISIS, the Middle East is ground zero for the genocide of Christians. It is easy to look back on the German Holocaust and say “never again.” However, we must ask ourselves as Christians, “What am I going to do now that it is happening again?” 

Martin Niemöller, who resisted Hitler, famously said after the war: “[Then] they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. . . . Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” What will be our excuse when they come for our fellow Christians and we do not speak out even then?

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About the author

Deacon Bill Scholl

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