"No Government Can Keep Its Legitimacy If It Fails to Defend Its People"
DENVER, Colorado, NOV. 1, 2001 (Zenit.org) <http://www.zenit.org>.-
wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and the U.S. military action in Afghanistan,
ZENIT asked Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to comment on the moral
principles -- and reactions -- that have arisen.
Q: Is enough is being done by the Church within the United States to
sentiments of revenge and animosity toward Arabs and Muslims?
Archbishop Chaput: American Catholics still have recent memories of
discrimination and hatred they themselves experienced as immigrant outsiders
in a predominantly Protestant country.
So yes, I think the Church has done a very good job of sensitizing people
the rights of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. Christians, Jews,
Muslims and all human beings are equally the children of God. They have the
same dignity and the same right to a life without fear.
Can anybody tell me how, and WHEN AND WHERE our US Church have done that?
I am working as pastor of two churches for many years now and I do not
find that the US Catholic Church has really "done a very good job of sensitizing
the rights of Arabs and Muslims in the United State."
THE PROOF: I can assure you, with many of my brother American priests that our American Catholics do not know anything about the Arabs, the Arab-Christians or Catholics, the Arab-Americans or about Islam and Muslims.
The MAJORITY of our beloved American Christians are absolutely, or Completely
IGNORANT of who are even the Arabs and the Muslims. How can they know about
their rights then if they do not know who are these people?
Whose fault is for not informing them the good way?
Is it the fault of the Arabs or Muslims or is it the US Catholic Church one and after years and years now?
As an Arab-American priest, I have asked to be invited to Catholic Universities, High schools, Groups and parishes so as to speak about this issue. I even wrote many times to Mother Angelica TV and other TVs. I can assure you that I have been invited by many Protestant sister churches, High Schools, Protestant teachers at the universities and Protestant groups but from very rare brothers or sisters of my own Catholic Church.
One time I wrote, I am ashamed to be a Catholic priest in the USA, I
said it after years of experience of sking my Church to Educate people
on who are the Arab-Christians.
Let me tell you, dear brothers and sisters why I felt this:
Because our Beloved Catholic American Church has failed, UNFORTUNATELY, for years now:
1) To tell the Catholics that Arab does not mean Muslim. In fact you can find in the Bible, Old and New Testament texts that speak about Arabs and Arabic regions when Islam came in the year 622 after Christ.
2) To interpret the Bible the right way when it speaks about Arabs: For Example, please read the Act of the Apostles 2: 10-11. You will find that at the very beginning of the Church, at the Very BIRTH of the Church, Arabs are mentioned, and Arabs where the first to convert to Christianity and build the mother Church Jerusalem. In fact the first Fathers of the Church started in our Arab Regions; the first translations of the Bible Old and New Testament, the first missionaries, the first martyrs started in our religions; the first Monachism and religious orders and Communities for men and women started in the Egyptian, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Lebanon ... caves, deserts and mountains where anchorites and religious orders started to found the first religious communities, before they went to Europe.
3) To tell the Catholics about the existence of Arabs who are Christians and even Catholics in many Arab Countries. The Arab-Christian Palestinians (with the Arab-Christians of the Middle East) are the people who have celebrated the first Christmas in Bethlehem and continue to celebrate it every year, not the Americans, or the Europeans, but the Arab-Christians; that the Arab-Christians are the first people to celebrate the stations of the Cross in the streets - via Dolorosa - of Jerusalem and celebrate the Holy Week and Easter and not any Western Christian ...
4) To tell the Catholic believers that their brothers and sisters, the Christians of the Middle East, are not converted from Islam but they are Christians from the first centuries and they need your support, love and care. In fact for Example the Christians of the Holy Land are leaving because of the difficult situation of the Israeli Occupation from 20% in 1948 they are now less than 1.8% and statistics say that in less than 25 years there will no LIVING STONES in the Holy Land; the Holy Land will become a museum of holy places like Turkey. In fact Turkey was the second in Holy Places after Jerusalem as the arena of St. Paul preaching and first communities, today no Living stones in Turkey, it is a Museum where you can only remember the last of the Christians in the Holy Places of the that time.
5) To tell the Catholics that the Arab-Christians and the Arab-Muslims
are living in harmony for years and years and the political situation,
and the foreign Policy of the USA and Europe are the main reason for Muslim
fanatism against Arab-Christians or Christians in Muslim Countries, like
lately in Pakistan.
To help you to see this, I will give you this simple explanation:
Our USA people, who should be a more learning and advanced people than others, know very little about Islam and Muslim countries, and confuse them with Arabs and Muslim countries, when we have more than one billion Muslims who are not Arabs (Afghanistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, Malaise, Pakistan, India, the Ex-Soviet Muslims countries ...are not Arab countries, but Muslim Countries), and from all the Muslim Countries Arab-Muslims form only around 22%. So is the case of a lot of Muslim people who identify the West and USA as Christian Countries. The Christians living in these Muslim countries will suffer innocently because of the foreign policy of the USA and Europe as these Christians will be considered as allies of these "Christian-crusaders" from one side and from the Ignorance of some Muslims. The same case is happening now in the USA where a lot of Muslims and Arab-Christians are harassed and racial profiled by Americans after the September 11.
6) Our Catholic Church is failing to use these last months events to
EDUCATE PROPERLY about the Arabs in the right way. I did not find till
now any paper worked by any bishop that would be read to churches and EDUCATE
I was so unhappy of what one of my beloved Catholic priests and friends have said at the Senior Halloween Party and in front of many people: "You know friends, I wanted to come with the costume that I bought some years in Egypt, but I decided not to dress in ARAB TERRORIST COSTUME"
I have good news to all my Catholic and non-Catholic friends, bishops, priests, pastors and people: THERE IS NO IRISH, ITALIAN, SPANISH, MEXICAN, PHILIPINO, ARAB, CHINESE ... TERRORIST COSTUME.
And the racial profiling or hate crimes are bad things when they are said against any group and specially when they come by from a CATHOLIC PRIEST to his own PEOPLE.
Do you see why I felt and I feel some times ashamed of my Church.
I thank God that I have been serving my Catholic Church for over 26 years, that I love my priesthood and I will stand with my beloved Church until the last day of my life.
BUT I do not tolerate any wrong. We are called to be true to ourselves and others.
It is time that my US Catholic Church, and its media to dare to EDUCATE
on the TRUTH about the Arabs.
I hope that our Beloved US Catholic Church will really start to correct the mistakes of information of the past.
Please find a lot of Articles on the Arabs and Arab-Christians at my webpage http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/christians.htm or click on Christians
With love, prayer and respect
Father Labib Kobti