“Pope Francis condemns more ‘blind violence’ after Nice attack,” reads a headline from a Catholic news agency.
On behalf of the Holy Father, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram to the Bishop of Nice expressing the Pope’s sorrow:
As France was celebrating her national holiday, the country was again struck by blind violence, this time in Nice, claiming many victims, including children. Once again condemning such acts, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.
With all due respect to the Pope and his Vatican advisers, it is they who are blind. They have shut their eyes to the role that Islam plays in motivating terrorist attacks like the one in Nice that left 84 dead and over 200 injured.
Some acts of violence can be labeled as “blind.” There are individuals who in a fit of passion strike out in a blind fury (and then often regret it). But that was not the case with Mohamed Bouhlel. His crime was carefully calculated and premeditated. He rented a truck—the biggest one available. He stocked up on weapons. He chose a French national holiday and a site where thousands would be gathered. His massacre plot can hardly be considered an act of blind rage.
Did he act out of fervor? Yes. But again, it was not blind. It was based on an entirely legitimate interpretation of Islam. He sought to serve Allah by killing infidels. And, since he must have known that the evening would end in his own death, we can assume that he sought the eternal reward which his namesake promised to martyrs.
Mohamed Bouhlel acted with eyes wide open. The same cannot be said of the Vatican, which time after time in the wake of terrorist attacks has condemned them as acts of senseless violence. But people who act out of religious conviction do not consider their acts to be senseless. Far from it, they are certain that what they do is packed with meaning. Vatican officials, of all people, should be able to understand that. It should be blazingly obvious to them that Islamic terrorists act out of religious motivation (even though that may not be the sole motivation). And there should by now be no doubt about which religion they follow. After all, the terrorist’s name was “Mohamed.” Judging by news reports, a disproportionate number of terrorists go by that name. Does that suggest anything? If thousands of people named “Jesus” were perpetrating terror attacks across the globe, would anyone hesitate to conclude that there must be a Christian connection? If they shouted “Jesus is Lord!” (the rough equivalent of “Allahu Akbar”) while mowing down their victims, would we assume that their motivations had nothing to do with their faith? Yet for years, the Vatican has joined its voice to the chorus of those who say that violence has nothing to do with Islam.
Just as the Catholic hierarchy has been blind to the violent side of Islam, they have been blind to the consequences that follow upon a dramatic increase in the Muslim population. It has been entirely predictable for a long time that more Muslims in Europe would result in more of the kind of terror that France witnessed on Thursday. Bouhlel himself was not a recent immigrant, but recent refugees have been implicated in other European terror attacks. Moreover, recent refugees made up the majority of the 2,000 men who sexually assaulted 1,200 women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve. And many European countries have experienced a wave of violent crimes in the wake of the 2015 mass migration from Muslim countries.
According to polls, a majority of Europeans now believe that Islam does not belong in Europe. Because they are not beholden to any official narrative, they are able to connect the large and bloody dots that are spreading across Europe. Yet the Catholic hierarchy in Europe has been and continues to be in the forefront of those calling for a welcoming attitude toward Muslim migrants. What will it take to wake them up?
For quite a while now, European bishops and the Pope have berated Christians for not having a more welcoming attitude toward Muslim migrants, as though their closed-hearted attitude was somehow responsible for refugee children drowning in the Mediterranean. Will they now take responsibility for the dead and mangled children on the Boulevard Anglais in Nice? For the 130 dead victims of the Bataclan Theater massacre? For the thirty-two dead in the Brussels airport and subway bombings? For the 1,200 victims of the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Germany?
Of course, the bishops are not guilty of those atrocities. But they are guilty of grossly misunderstanding Islam and the threat it poses to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They need to seriously consider whether Jesus’ warning about blind guides might apply to some of them. Their hearts, we must assume, are in the right place, but their heads are in the sand.
(Photo credit: Sasha Goldsmith via AP)