George Rutler

The fine Latinity of Laetare Sunday means to be joyful, and as the mother of civilization, the Holy Church encourages her children to keep pressing on toward the Easter prize. Just as Eskimos and Arabs have many words for snow and sand, the ample resources of Latin give us more than one word for rejoicing. There is gaude, from which we get gaudy celebration, so in the somber days of Advent we have Gaudete Sunday. “Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria.” We shall sing that at Easter, but laetare creeps in on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

Back to Greek: I indulge apophasis, which means saying that I am not going to say what I am going to say, to remark that there is no need to mention, in this rose-colored time of Lent, that our brothers and sisters in the Faith in Iraq and Syria are suffering terribly. The Pope and various national leaders have used the word that our Chief Executive will not pronounce: genocide. If a hapless youth is shot on one of our city streets, it is front-page news, but the beheading of Christian infants in the Middle East hardly gets a comment.

Our current President has told the United Nations that the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam, and he makes a habit of saying that terror attacks have “nothing to do with Islam.” Our government has purged any reference to Islam from military and intelligence training manuals, and immigration policies favor Islam to the extent that so far this year 602 Muslim immigrants have been granted asylum while only two Christians have. Meanwhile, Christianity is being eradicated in the Middle East, and churches and monasteries destroyed.

The Knights of Columbus have received more than 25,000 names for a petition asking the Secretary of State to designate the systematic mass murder of Christians by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) as genocide. Iraqi and Syrian Christians fear going to refugee camps because they may be killed by Muslim “hit squads.”

This transcends all the issues that transfix political candidates now seeking to repair what is broken in our nation. We are in the predicament that some of our Founding Fathers faced as they tried to make sense of what was to them an obscure and exotic religion that was damaging American commerce and compromising the new nation’s sovereignty: The Barbary pirates were enslaving thousands of Americans.

In a recent talk to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, which the FBI warned had radical allegiances, President Obama said that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had copies of the Qur’an. He neglected to say that they were not seeking spiritual edification: they were trying to anatomize what was to them a fount of cruelty and engine of hysteria. Our Lady knew that kind of mentality when she watched her son dragged through the streets.

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