Analyst: Vatican regards Islamic State as waging a 'war of religion'
Vatican City, Sep 4, 2014 / 04:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - According to prominent Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, the Holy See views the aggression of the Islamic State as a religious war, and believes that international action taken so far is inadequate.
In a Sept. 4 post on his Settimo Cielo blog at l'Espresso, Magister made note of an editorial which appeared in the most recent issue of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuits' Italian-language cultural review.
“Obviously, to promote peace it is necessary to know what the war truly is, and not what one would like it to be. It is crucial to study and to comprehend why and how the Islamic State fights. Theirs is a war of religion and of annihilation,” reads the editorial penned by Fr. Luciano Larivera, S.J.
The article continues, “It should not be confused or reduced to other forms, such as the Bolsheviks or the Khmer Rouge. They instrumentalize the power of religion, and not vice versa. Their danger is greater than that of al-Qaeda.”
Magister posited that La Civiltà's editorial represents in fact the stance of the Holy See.
“Each line of 'La Civiltà Cattolica' is passed beforehand for examination by authorities of the Vatican, who allow publication, or not,” he began his blog post.
CNA has itself previously noted that La Civiltà's articles “are approved by the Vatican’s secretary of state before publication.”
On the basis of this Vatican approval for the lines appearing in the periodical, Magister wrote that Fr. Lavirera's editorial, titled “Halt the humanitarian tragedy in Iraq”, “should not pass by unobserved.”
The editorial in La Civiltà Cattolica mentions in particular the inadequacy of the limited military intervention thus far carried out against the Islamic State.
“Military analysts attest that the existing military solution is not effective.”
The US and Iraq have carried out air strikes against the Islamic State, and the UK's prime minister is considering doing the same. Both France and the UK have armed the Kurdish peshmerga militants who are fighting the caliphate.
La Civiltà Cattolica's editorial writes that “being limited to this medium can continue to permit the Islamic State to conquer territory, and give it occasion to commit further atrocities.”
“The Islamic State should be cut off from its supply of arms, the recruitment and training of new combatants, it financing channels, energy infrastructure, and logistics.”
In recent weeks, the peshmerga and Iraqi forces have made inroads against the Islamic State, recapturing some towns and breaking its sieges on others.
The Islamic State emerged as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of the rebel groups fighting in the Syrian civil war; this spring it spread its operations to Iraq, taking control of Mosul and swaths of territory in the country's north and west.
While Iraq's population is majority Shia Muslim, the Islamic State was able to consolidate control of Sunni-majority areas, where the people have perceived discrimination at the hands of the Shia-led government.
The Islamic State has persecuted all non-Sunni persons in its territory: Christians, Yazidis, and Shias have all fled the caliphate.
La Civiltà's editorial further noted the importance of forming an Iraqi government in which Sunnis are represented, and given the same place at the table as other ethnic and religious groups, while also noting that the conflict between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq is a mirror of a conflict taking place between Iran and the rest of the Persian Gulf states.
The editorial's abstract notes that while “the prophetic cry of the Church is 'no more war!”, her magisterium includes just war theory as well as just peace, solidarity, and charity.
“The Church is not tasked with proposing war strategies and tactics. This is does not fit in with her mission and her competence, but is up to the civil and military authorities, and lay experts, including Catholics,” the abstract states.
In the introduction, the editorial noted the importance of seeing that Islamic State militants consider theirs a war of religion, such that domestic politics, diplomacy, religion, and economics can all be brought to bear in ending the conflict.
“The worldwide Islamic community has a duty to destroy in the heart of all Muslims an extremist conception of the conception of the Quran and of Islamic tradition.”