Friday, January 09, 2015

Charlie Hebdo killings - a Catholic reflection

It has been just 24 hours since I heard of the sickening killings of 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo - a satirical French Magazine. 

I was shocked and saddened that anyone could use religion as an excuse for murder - perhaps the greatest blasphemy of all. 

I saw so many Facebook and Twitter posts with the hashtag #jesuischarlie. I am sympathetic and agree that freedom of speech is precious and yet I cannot stand side by side with a magazine that regularly insults Our Lord and His Church.  The Christian response to such blasphemy is to pray, write and give honour to God instead. 

How should a Christian respond to these events. My thoughts are that we should first of all pray for the victims - all of those  who died have immortal souls. It may be that many of them hated religion but God alone is their judge. As fellow sinners let's  pray that He is merciful to them. The cartoons produced in Charlie Hebdo were so offensive that I would not even link to their blasphemous website but we should still pray for the victims, their families and colleagues. 

What about the terrorists? We know that they claim to be Muslims. We should pray that they repent of evil, give themselves up to the police and most of all pray that they might turn to Christ and His Church and be saved. Politicians and the police are tasked with countering terrorism but an inner conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit would be most effective. God loves these people and wants them to be saved. 

Finally, whilst we rightly condemn anyone killing in the name of religion we should avoid hypocrisy ourselves. We do not have to look to the Middle East or to Paris to see horrific human rights abuses by people who claim to follow Christ. A greater blasphemy than the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo or the killings of terrorists in the name of religion takes place every time a professed Catholic supports abortion, euthanasia or illegal wars and then receives Holy Communion. 

May we all ask the Holy Spirit to change us from within and transform out hearts and minds to Christ. Even in times of despair we are not called to curse the darkness but to share the light.