By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
“O Lord, my God, in thee have I put my trust; save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me. Lest at any time he seize upon my soul like a lion, while there is no one to redeem me, nor to save” (Psalm 7).
The words of the psalm express the perennial plight of the faithful one who obeys God rather than men. This month we witnessed brothers and sisters thrust, through no fault of their own, into a firsthand experience of the meaning of these words of Scripture.
The pictures and news reports are heartbreaking: families expelled from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs as they take to the road out of Mosul; Christian and Muslim neighbors who have lived for years in peace with one another bidding tearful goodbyes; added numbers of refugees from Iraq straining the ever-more pressed resources available elsewhere.
The whole world has observed the injustices visited upon Christians in Mosul in recent days despite the silence of many leaders and news sources in the West.
The ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) radicals attacking the body of Christ in the name of God imposed a tax, forced conversion, or death as penalties for Christianity.
Their example is not universal among Muslims.
Elsewhere in Iraq, Christians and Muslims prayed together in a Catholic church for peace and reconciliation. A reported by The New York Times, one Muslim expressed solidarity and acknowledged the ancient Iraqi roots of Christians by saying, “You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.”
For Western Christians, who face the much less ferocious persecution of the “HHS tax,” enforcing immoral cooperation in moral evils such as contraception and abortion, the example of Christians under threat of genocide in Mosul cannot fail to inspire. Although some Christians submitted to forced conversions, a great number have remained faithful to Christ, choosing life in exile in preference to betrayal of God. We must give thanks to the Lord for their example, keep them in or prayers and reach out with material assistance.
Our own culpability must be acknowledged in the loss of just conditions of life for Christians in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere through involvement in war which served to destabilize the previous peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims.
On a personal level, our lives of faith certainly must benefit from the courageous example of our Christian brothers and sisters who remained steadfast in the faith, refusing the temptation of apostasy in contrast to the few who did forsake Christ under dire threat from the enemies of God.
Our Christian witness is under attack in different ways as we face the financial and economic pressures of an administration in Washington that seeks to exclude and marginalize those who remain faithful to the moral teachings of the Church.
A new executive order that purports to exclude discrimination against persons with same-sex attraction makes no distinction between sexual inclination and conduct. It therefore results in discrimination against federal contractors who oppose all sexual conduct outside of marriage.
In their statement on ENDA, the bishops said, “In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.”
The bishops clarified Church teaching by stating: “The Church strongly opposes both unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination and sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman.”
Where the president’s executive order is flawed, they said, is the discrimination resulting from its vague definition of sexual inclination. The order ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term “sexual orientation.”
The order also wades into the uncharted territory of the artificial category of “gender discrimination.” In the bishops’ statement we learn:
“The executive order prohibits ‘gender identity’ discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that ‘gender’ is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.
“This is a problem not only of principle but of practice, as it will jeopardize the privacy and associational rights of both federal contractor employees and federal employees.
“For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.”
The administration continues its frontal assault upon Christianity. Let us pray for the grace to stand fast in the faith through these very stormy times. Participate in opportunities for communal prayer in addition to Sunday Mass and offer fasting and personal prayer in support of our bishops as they teach, sanctify, and govern the people of God.
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(Follow Fr. Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick and on Twitter @MCITLFrAphorism. Father blogs at apriestlife.blogspot.com and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)