Columban Fr Frank Regan was born and raised in New York. A nephew, who worked on the 107th floor of the World Trade Centre, survived the attack because he was 15 minutes late for work that morning. New York and Washington, centres of imperial power and wealth, are reeling. As human beings we can only feel the pain, confusion and anger of thousands as they come to terms with a conflagration of apocalyptic enormity. The word Apocalypse evokes images of good and evil in confrontation with its resultant death and devastation on a cosmic scale. But Apocalypse also means Revelation of what is hidden and secret that will be placed under scrutiny and submitted to judgment. "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men and women for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." (Rev 5:9) Is there anything to be revealed and submitted to scrutiny and judgment about ourselves and about the presumed Islamic perpetrators? Can we read and discern what is happening in the light of our faith? During the time of the Crusades of a thousand years ago, Christians killed Muslims and earned a plenary indulgence. Today Muslims kill Christians and Jews and go to heaven. All in the name of God the God of Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed. In modern times the world of Islam has felt the incursion of the West in notably negative terms. The West has extracted untold millions worth of oil wealth. It has acted politically and militarily to maintain in power corrupt and dictatorial regimes which kept the oil spigots open. In the midst of that history of incursion, peoples have been hurt, their cultures threatened and their religion disdained. This history of hurt has reached a critical stage, made evident in acts of terrorism. Terror is the last desperate act of a group who feels its very existence is under threat. We've seen it in Northern Ireland, I've seen it in Peru. New York and Washington did not happen 'out of the blue'. They are another chapter in a history which includes the bombing of Libya, then Lockerbie, Lebanon, the Gulf War, 75 Cruise missiles fired at Afghanistan, US embassies bombed in Kenya and Tanzania, Sudan etc. Since the end of the Gulf War, 500,000 Iraqui children have died as a result of sanctions enforced by the USA and this country. Terror and violence challenges the Peace witness of all people of faith. In particular, Christianity must dissolve its unholy alliance with capitalism and western culture and civilisation. Only then will there be a hope of a just and right relationship with the world of Islam which will permit a Dialogue of life and faith. Only then can our church become a world church. Is there any hope? Last August 28, the Columban missionary Rufus Halley was murdered by Muslim kidnappers. Rufus had spent more than 20 years in the Philippines. He lived there among the Maranao Muslims and was loved by them. His death was a shock to all. After his Christian wake his body was waked by the Muslim community. They chanted the entire Koran over him and cried bitterly as he was taken away for burial. They formed a giuard of honour and strew flowers. At the burial one of Rufus's brothers cited a phrase he read in a Columban house: Judge not the day by the harvest reaped, but by the seed sown. Published with permission of Catholic Woman - the magazine of the National Board of Catholic Women
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