Editor's note: The Christian Post has arranged with noted evangelical Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, an expert on and friend of The Catholic Church, to provide exclusive and rare coverage of the World Synod of the Catholic Church scheduled for October 3-24.
This Vatican Synod is generating great interest among Catholics and Evangelicals alike as Pope Francis continues to make overtures for increased cooperation with Evangelicals to protect religious freedom in a world of increased persecution of Christians.
Schirrmacher is president of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights und Ambassador for Human Rights and executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest evangelical association in the world.
Only one evangelical was invited to this year's three-week Synod: Dr. Schirrmacher. Below is his exclusive CP blog post from this historic meeting:
October 19, 2015
Upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Synod, I, the World Evangelical Alliance's representative at the Synod, called upon the international Christian community to demonstrate more solidarity with persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world.
I published a statement as to why I speak of, among other things, the genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans.
In my address to the plenary session of the Synod the day before, I directed the following words to the Pope, who was able to follow my German address without a translation:
After several patriarchs from the Near East have spoken about the topic of the persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, I simply cannot fail to add a word, since it is the topic that is my body and soul and because I am convinced that there is a genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans occurring in the Near and Middle East in the sense of the UN definition:
There has to be a jolt that goes through the international Christian community in order to produce a demonstration of a heretofore unequalled level of solidarity with persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq, Pakistan und Bhutan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Maledives, in China and India, and in many other countries. We need joint public prayer for the persecuted church on the part of the highest church leaders.
The International Institute for Religious Freedom o the World Evangelical Alliance, which does work on the topic of the persecution of Christians and provides information for states, researchers, and churches, we need a partner in Rome! For that reason, I want to express the humble wish to the head of the Catholic Church to afterwards be allowed to again address him in a personal conversation.
Please give us the name of a particular contact individual for the topic of the persecution of Christians. Or better still, please create an institution in Rome which will take on this topic and with whom our specialists can directly work.
Here is my declaration on genocide:
Genocide in the Near East: Declaration made at the Vatican Synod
The murder of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans, and the systematic persecution, rape, and enslavement of these ethno-religious groups in Syria and Iraq clearly and without doubt fulfill the offense of genocide. It is not a matter of some sort of over-dramatization but rather of a simple application of the definition of genocide by the UN.
Article II of the 1948 United Nations definition of genocide reads as follows:
"In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
In what sense would this not apply to the persecution of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans? One element would suffice, but four of them (a, b, c und e) have been adequately documented. Indeed, for each of them there are pieces of evidence from propaganda films by the Islamic State. Only d) is not so easy to demonstrate.
- Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans are systematically killed, driven out, or forced to convert.
- The children of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans are killed or subject to forced reeducation.
- Women and girls are raped, forced into prostitution, and forced into marriage with IS Muslims. As a result, the minorities are prevented from being able to procreate (UN definition, point d.).
It is to be pointed out that this genocide is announced and planned, and it is actually being implemented accordingly.
Why do so many church leaders, scientists, and politicians beat around the bush when it comes to genocide?
Now regarding the possible counterarguments.
Question: Are not all people in Syria and Iraq affected by the civil war and are not almost all people in the position of becoming victims of IS?
With respect to genocide, it is irrelevant that there are also other victims or that there are also other victims among the majority population. The genocide committed by the Germans under Hitler against the Jews and against Roma and Sinti was accompanied by war against many nations and people groups and last but not least the Nazi terror conducted against the German people as a whole. Despite this, the genocide committed against Jews and Roma and Sinti remains genocide.
Question: Isn't IS also fighting Shiites and Sunnis who are not in agreement with their version of Islam?
If one goes on the assumption that the IS also seeks to kill and eradicate Shiites as a defined population group or kill and eradicate Sunnis who think differently as likewise apostate, then one additionally has to view that as genocide. But the fact that non-Islamic ethno-religious minorities are the target of genocide from the side of IS is not changed by this discussion at all!
I am aware that the assessment that the situation is a matter of genocide also has consequences in international law. However, that is an additional, if necessary step, which I would prefer to leave to the specialists.