Like most of you, I wasn’t even born when the events that began our nation’s involvement in World War II took place. Now we can perhaps understand the shock and grief, and the anger, of that generation when they heard the news about Pearl Harbor. But what happened ten years ago today is even worse in a certain way, for it involves not only an undeclared and surprise act of war , but this time it was primarily against a civilian population, and it was an atrocity that we have not only heard about, but have actually seen, visibly and almost immediately witnessed over and over again by means of technology that was not available then, making this crime against humanity an even more vivid and searing reality carried now permanently in our memories.
This kind of barbaric act forces, or hopefully forces us to ask, how man can be capable of such monstrous acts of inhumanity, such crimes against God and man, and all the more evil in this case because they were performed by professedly religious men in the name of God? We are rightly shocked that such a barbaric crime would be religiously motivated as an act of praise of God. This monstrous crime, then, is part of the mystery of iniquity that is ever present in this world, the evil that causes mankind such suffering and death. It confronts us with the endless cycle of violence and death that plagues our world.
The Holy Father, in his message of solidarity and compassion that day with the suffering families and people of America, prayed that this terrorist act would not lead to yet another cycle of violence and hatred such as his generation lived through in World War II. We should join in that prayer for peace, but nonetheless it is both a right and a duty for our nation and its leaders, first, to bring to justice those who have committed these crimes, by their formal cooperation, and, second, to destroy the capabilities of terrorist enemies to carry out such actions against our people in the future.
But this right and duty can also be a temptation to use the same kind of tactics in trying to root out these evils, war with no moral limits, total war. It is so difficult for man to strive for justice using the force of arms, so difficult not to fall into deep hatred for our enemies and even those who applaud their attacks on our people, to be tempted to repay in kind rather than secure justice and peace, to seek revenge rather than justice and security.
I honestly believe that the American people, by and large, have avoided this temptation to hate and seek revenge, but one wonders what will happen if these attacks continue in the future, and they almost certainly will, even if we do not let down our guard. This enemy is relentless and hates this country and the west in general with a hatred that knows no moral limits. “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight” says Sirach in today’s first reading. The terrorists were, in their own words, filled with wrath and hatred when they murdered 3000 Americans, and their millions of radical successors are likewise filled with hatred and anger.
Nor all muslims, not even most Muslims are violent, but all Muslims believe in the duty to bring the world under the law of Islam. And all Muslims believe in the duty of Jihad, at leasst when they see their culture and religion, their children’s morals, threatened by infidels. We are their infidels, and many Muslims, not all, maybe not even a msajority of the billion plus faithful, but many see our culture, which they identify with Hollywood, with immoral music, with scandalous immodesty in dress, abortion and so many other negative traits of our degraded culture, as positive and serious threats to their children, to their culture, to their way of life and survival because our government and our entertainment industries try to transplant this poison to their soil, their home- lands, their homes in the west.
These radicalized Muslims, numbering in the millions even if they constitute only 5 or 10% of the billion, don’t see much positive about us. True, they see our freedom, but they see that freedom as only the freedom to pervert a whole society. They see our religious character, but they despise religions that seem to go along with this societal collapse. They see our prosperity, but again they see it as simply having the money to support our bad habits. We are their enemy and they have the right to attack us, to kill us, to wage military jihad against us, all of us.
Of course may of these radicals would hate us even if these cultural evils were corrected, because they firmly believe that violent jihad is necessary and justified for bringing all infidel nations under subjection to Islam and the law of Islam. So they especially hate this country because in point of fact we are the last standing obstacle to their goal to make Islam, their version of Islam, the religious and political master of Europe and the western world in general.
Europe is already gradually surrendering, due to their self-defeating decision to have no children, or at least far less than what is necessary to support their welfare states, and their decision to abandon the Christian faith which leaves a religious vacuum which the more fertile Muslims will gladly fill.
Many European countries by mid-Century will have populations with close to a Muslim majority, and as once said, we will conquer Europe not with arms, but just by having more children!
The United States, however, is the last big obstacle to subjection of the West, first, because our population is still growing, unlike 17 European nations which soon will face declining populations, in spite of immigration. Likewise, we still have a strong military and the determination to use it when necessary, which is increasingly not true of our western allies. Moreover, in spite of the secularist victories radically changing our culture, Americans still hosts a much more religious nation than any European ally. Religious Americans confound our enemies by remaining firm in our determination to defend ourselves, yet ready to forgive as the Lord commands, like after World War II. What other conquering super-power in history helped its enemies rebuild, without making them its subjects, appendages to the nation of the victors? We have many faults as a nation, but revenge has generally not been one of them. Christians are obligated by God to forgive, but this is simply not true of our non-Christian enemies.
The beautiful parable of Jesus regarding the duty to forgive is matched in the first reading by Sirach: Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven; or the final verse, Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults. Jesus even goes further, by saying that forgiveness has no limits, so long as there is repentance, and he says that we must forgive even our enemies. That is what make Christianity different from Islam, even at its best. Yet radical Muslims do not see this readiness to forgive as a virtue, but as a sign of weakness.
No Muslim is under any obligation of the Koran, the source of the law of Islam, to forgive his enemies. And the most radical sects in Islam, which include millions of Muslim faithful, are sincerely convinced that the Koran allows them to kill even the innocent in the pursuit of political/religious jihad. What we call terrorism, they call holy jihad, the service of Allah in extending the only true religion to the whole of mankind.
That is why this is a most difficult war, and it will be a long one. Islam has for 14 centuries been trying to extend Islamic religion, law and culture to the whole earth, sometimes by violent means, and other timers by peaceful means, like simply out populating others and taking over. They have no natural law, no supreme authority to infallibly declare which version of Islam is correct, the Osama Ben Ladin Sunni version, the Iranian Shiite version, or the more peaceful versions like the Sufis. They have no moral duty to have mercy and forgive their enemies. Subjection of the infidel is the one over-arching goal of every form of Islam, and we ignore that truth at our peril.
Nonetheless, we Christians cannot adopt immoral means of defending ourselves. We Christians have to forgive our enemies, even while we remain vigilant and protect our nation. This places us in a somewhat more difficult situation – we must obey the laws of nations and the law of Christ in defending ourselves. But we do have huge spiritual advantages. We are truly free in a way they are not, free in body and soul because we posses the truth about God and man, we obey a higher law and have the gifts of grace to follow it. Finally, we also have very powerful spiritual intercessors, Our Lady, the martyrs and other saints, and we know the power of Christ’s prayer, offered through Our Lord. This is our ultimate secret weapon. We are in God’s hands, and he hears the prayers of his Son.