The bloodshed in Tanta and Alessandria is a brusque wake-up call for Pope Francis on the eve of his trip to Egypt. The attacks in the Middle East, as in Europe, are not natural disasters, preventable through ecumenical meetings, like the one that Pope Francis will have on April 28th with the Grand Imam di Azhar, but episodes which remind us of the existence in the world of deep ideological and religious divisions that can only be healed by returning to the truth.
And the first truth to remember, if he doesn’t want to deceive himself and the world, is that the attackers in Cairo, like those in Stockholm and London, are not unhinged or psychologically unstable, but bringers of a religious vision going back to the 7th century that has since then been combating Christianity. Over the centuries, not only Europe, but the Christian East and West, have defined their identity by defending themselves from the attacks of Islam which has never ever renounced its universal supremacy.
Pope Francis’ analysis is different. In his Palm Sunday homily he reaffirmed his closeness to those who “suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike.” Then looking up from his notes, the Pope added: “let us pray for the conversion of the hearts “of those who produce and traffic in weapons”. Pope Bergoglio reaffirmed what he has often declared: it is not Islam in itself, and neither its deviations that are a threat to peace in the world, but the “economic interests” of the arms dealers.
In an interview with the journalist Henrique Cymerman, published in the daily “La Vanguardia, on June 12th 2014, Francis had stated: “We are discarding a generation to maintain an economic system that doesn’t work anymore, a system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black.”
The Pope doesn’t appear to believe that one can choose to live and die following a political or religious dream. What moves history are economic interests, which at one time were those of the middle class against the working class; today they are interests of the multinationals and the capitalist countries against the “poor of the earth”. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the President of the Russian Federation, Putin, are opposed to this vision of the events, which comes directly from Marxist economics,
Trump and Putin have rediscovered the national interests of their respective nations and on the international front of the Middle East are fighting a tough game at diplomatic and media levels and do not exclude moves at a military level. Islam, in turn, is stirring up the spectre of a religious war in the world.
On this eve of Easter, what words are the faithful expecting from the Head of the Catholic Church? We expect to hear that the real causes of war are not of an economic order nor a political one, but primarily of a religious and moral order. They have their deepest origins in the hearts of men and their ultimate roots in sin. It was to ransom the world from sin that Jesus Christ suffered His Passion, which today is also the Passion of a persecuted Church over the entire world.
In the prayer for peace that he composed on September 8th 1914, after the First World War had broken out, Benedict XV exhorted private and public implorations to “God, judge and ruler of all things, so that, mindful of His Mercy, He avert this scourge of wrath which is justice for the sins of the people. Let us implore, that in our common vows, the Virgin Mother of God, whose propitious birth we celebrate this very day assist and favour us, [that She may] shine brightly as the dawn of peace on the troubled human race, She having had to bring to the world He in Whom the Eternal Father wanted to reconcile all things, “ making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.” (1 Col. 1,20).
Is it a dream to imagine that a Pope might address words of this sort to mankind in the tempestuous international situation we are living today?