HYDERABAD, INDIA/NORMANDY, FRANCE (ANS – July 26, 2016) – Following today’s terrorist attack by two Islamic State supporters in Normandy, France, who, during morning Mass, brutally executed, Father Jacques Hamel, a beloved Catholic priest in his mid-eighties, in his church, and also the series of attacks in Germany, where in the last eight days ten people have been killed and dozens more injured, the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza — president of the All India Christian Council and the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church – has spoken out against the shocking violence encompassing parts of Western Europe.
“Today, the collective heart of the global, Christian church is shattered yet again at the news of another martyr. This decade will go down in history as one of the bloodiest in all of Christian history,” he said. “This time the victim is an elderly Catholic priest. Incomprehensible. His throat was slit alone because of his commitment to Jesus Christ. In the face of this hate, we choose to celebrate the life of this dear priest, and we recommit ourselves to doing all we can to stop terrorism and to bring peace to our streets.
“While everyone understands that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, we must address with clarity of thought the truth that the pervasive radicalization of Muslims by some of their leaders is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it is now a growing phenomenon, bringing barbarism daily to the streets of Europe. Blindness to – or denial of – this phenomenon has allowed the rapid propagation of extremism within free democracies. Governments must treat these non-traditional threats with the same vigilance that they would treat someone bombing their shores.
“As an Indian, I live and serve in a country that has been fighting religious terrorism for my entire life, and what I know is that communities of faith and civil society must work together in order to cut this menace off at the root. What I also know is that there is almost always evidence of radicalization in the life of an individual.”
D’Souza went on to say, “Government agencies and civil societies need to accept that this is a new reality of the modern world, and they need to find better ways to monitor what is going on within these radical groups. We have been too slow to action, and too slow to cooperation. It is the responsibility of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and all religious communities to be watchful of radicalization within their own communities if they want to preserve freedom and democracy for all society.
“Playing the role of a bystander when the process of radicalization is going on is not an option any more. No matter the religion, the west can no longer ignore the radicalization of religion that leads to violence.”