Friday, April 13, 2018

Patriarchal Encyclical on the Ongoing Military Tension in Syria


Cum Cura Gravi 

Patriarchal Encyclical on the Ongoing Military Tension in Syria 

With grave concern we write on the matter of continued military conflict in Syria. The United States of America has indicated its apparent intent to launch missile strikes against the current Syrian regime, in continuation of ongoing military action there and in further continuation of global military action led by the United States for seventeen years. However, as the Bishop of Aleppo has pointed out in his fervent pleas, action against the Assad government causes further instability and strengthens extremists, further placing the Christian population of Syria, one of the oldest in the world, in grave, mortal peril. To further confound the situation, the United States and the Russian Federation appear to be on opposite sides of the conflict, making military threats against each other over Syria and further destabilizing the region. 

American interference in Iraq, and in particular the ill-advised withdrawal of troops from Iraq without an insurance of complete stability following their military conquest of that state, created a power vacuum that permitted the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to take power. ISIS being nothing more than murderous Islamic extremists, that resulted in a holocaust of Iraqi Christians, who were given the choice of death or exile. Many went into exodus. Others died. Priceless sacred architecture was destroyed – architecture that belongs to the treasure of heritage of all Christian people, for the Christians of Iraq and Syria are among the oldest Christian populations in the world. Yet, the United States said nothing. Actions against Muslims and Jews are historically met with American outcry and even American military action, yet when the Christians were in peril, and indeed place in peril by the United States, America responded with an eerie, stony, deafening silence. 

Now the American administration seeks further military action in Syria, with wild, senseless, and even incomprehensible public commentary made by the U.S. President regarding action to be taken and weapons to be used. Missiles, apparently, are the weapon of choice. It permits them to harm others without endangering their own people – regardless of the collateral damage (for many Christians live in areas of military strategic importance). That is nothing short of cowardly. It is unworthy of the honour of true warriors that they would even be asked to do such a thing. 

American military action in Syria does not meet the qualifications of a just war under the doctrine thereof. No legitimate casus belli has been put forth. Rather, the apparent method is simply to claim that it is what the United States wants, using the vague “national security” or “national interest” as a broad umbrella rationalization, and that is deemed justification enough, no matter the cost – in this case to the persecuted Christian population of Syria that is begging America not to interfere. What is additionally unfortunate is that the American military leadership appears all too ready and eager to comply with such orders. Yet, one must not become brainwashed with notions of “American exceptionalism” or a perceived right and/or duty to spread American-style democracy to the world. Neither must one become arrogant and drunk on power. A war that does not meet the qualifications of just war doctrine is nothing more than a war crime and its leaders and fully-informed, willing participants nothing more than war criminals. At some point the good and decent Christians, the faithful warriors of the American military must lay down their arms and say that they shall no longer participate in wars of questionable or no justification, wars that endanger people for no legitimate purpose, wars that create a holocaust of the faithful in Christ. 

We demand and insist that the American government cease its currently-planned military action in Syria. It is both our right and our duty to say this. We implore the leadership of the American military to resist global interferism and military action that does not meet the criteria under just war doctrine. The souls of all involved are at stake. The lives of Christians in Syria and Iraq suffering a holocaust are at stake. The possession of a powerful military is not a license to be an aggressor, intimidating others to bend to one’s will for its own sake, but a grave and tremendous responsibility. Indeed, no man may serve two masters. We, the faithful in Christ, must be Christian first. Any loyalty to any earthly state must be secondary. Christ first and Christ above all. 

Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham in the House of St. Stephen, this 13th Day of April in the two thousand eighteenth year of the Incarnation of Our Lord.