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Vatican diplomat: international community must act in Iraq

Catholic World News - August 14, 2014

A leading Vatican diplomat said that the international community must move beyond verbal condemnations and actively assist the persecuted Christians of northern Iraq.

“I would say that we should not have a short memory,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who represents the Holy See at UN offices in Geneva.

“A few years ago, I remember we were faced with a similar situation as we are faced now in northern Iraq when Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda were killing each other,” he said in an interview with Vatican Radio. “There were meetings, political declarations, but very little action.”

“And then, every year when we commemorate the almost one million people killed in that genocide, we make a kind of ‘mea culpa’ saying we have not done anything effective to prevent the killing of those innocent people,” he continued. “God forbid that this may also be the same situation today in northern Iraq.”

Archbishop Tomasi noted that Pope Francis, in his recent letter to the UN secretary general, referred to the “relevant articles of the UN charter” in making an “urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway.”

Commenting on the UN charter, Archbishop Tomasi said that

there might be occasions in the life and in the relations between states when dialogue, negotiations, fail and large numbers of people find themselves at risk: at risk of genocide, at risk of having their fundamental, their basic human rights violated.

In this case, when every other means has been attempted, article 42 of the Charter of the United Nations becomes possible justification for not only imposing sanctions of economic nature on the state or the group or the region that violates the basic human rights of people, but also to use force. All the force that is necessary to stop this evil and this tragedy.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 14, 2014 12:13 PM ET USA

    Perhaps "comfort" is in order here. One might wonder how, but in the super-abundance of our Catholic tradition, there are in fact stories of heroic mass martyrdom, that challenge the mind & stoke the flame of the heart. There is of course the "story" of St. Ursula & the 11,000 virgins, all allegedly consecrated to God in preparation, all martyred by the Huns on a single day. & if that seems too improbable, there is the much better documented heroism of the Theban Legion, 6600 @ one time.

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