June 19, 2013
(Mat 5:10-12) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
VIDEO: Syria: The Civil War and the Christian Minority
ASIANEWS.IT: Beirut: appeal for Catholic-Orthodox unity and an end to the war in Syria
The leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches opened their respective synods today in Beirut to discuss the grave situation facing Syria's Christian communities, caught between warring Shias and Sunnis, whose conflict has now spilled over into neighbouring Lebanon.
From Ain Trez, home of the Melkite Catholic Church, Gregory III Laham, patriarch of Antioch, slammed the decision by the United States and some other European countries to send weapons to the rebels. Because of this move, the population "will face more problems" than in the past.
According to the prelate, the position of Western countries is incomprehensible. "It's as if the world is no longer able to understand anything save the language of arms, war, destruction, violence and terrorism."
Weapons, he added, only "fuel the violence and hatred, and lead to more killing, destruction, displacement and more suffering-economically, socially, health-wise-for families, young people, students and workers".
For this reason, Laham appealed to the international community for an immediate cessation of all arms transfers, and for the world's major powers to work together towards a political solution rather than contributing to the "division" of the Arab world along political, social, religious and tribal lines.
THE TELEGRAPH: War in Syria: what would Thomas Aquinas do?
A decision by the Government to arm the rebels in Syria ought to be taken as carefully as one to commit British troops. It is akin to war, albeit by proxy, and must be treated with equal seriousness and meet the tests for a just war. Thomas Aquinas set out three criteria for such a war. It must be waged by a legitimate authority; the cause needs to be just; and there has to be a right intention to restore peace. Tony Blair, in his Chicago speech in 1999, set out five conditions for intervention in his view of the new world order. Inevitably, both sets of tests are matters of judgment but neither seems to be met in full.
The first question is who is the legitimate authority? It is clearly the nation state when it is attacked or its essential interests are threatened. Only it can decide if these conditions are met. This is not the case for the United Kingdom in relation to Syria, so legitimacy must be sought in international conventions. There are certain circumstances in which it is agreed that nations may intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states. However, this needs the sanction of an international body –otherwise it would allow arbitrary attacks. The United Nations Security Council has served this purpose in the past and although it is a flawed body, it can legitimise military action against independent states for their internal actions. There is no prospect of this happening in the case of Syria, which is seen as a reason for ignoring the UN. This ought to lead to pause for thought as it makes it hard to show that there is a legitimate authority, and so Aquinas’s first test is not met.
The second condition is easier to meet as it allows that "those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault". Assad is unquestionably guilty of the most grievous fault and has inflicted horrors upon his people. This would make war just in the event that the other conditions were met, but cannot stand alone.
The third test is that the "belligerents should have a rightful intention". Essentially they need to have a realistic prospect of promoting peace. This is hard to meet as foreign intervention so far has prolonged war and has allowed some wicked, extreme figures to grow in importance. The response to America's promise to send arms seems to be the dispatch of 4,000 troops by Iran and anti-aircraft missiles by Russia: in other words, the intent may be pious but it is not rightful as it has little prospect of leading to peace.
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