Theology and Society:
Boko Haram militants claim that they are turning Nigeria into an Islamic caliphate. The Muslim extremist organization is in control of three Nigerian towns, and continues to gain power and influence in the region, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 29, 2014).
In video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is seen announcing, “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate… By the grace of Allah we will not leave the town. We have come to stay.”
The militants conquered Gwoza on August 6, destroying homes and killing many residents. Some survivors fled to surrounding mountains, as well as bordering nation Cameroon.
Officials fear that Boko Haram is working with Islamic State terrorists, who have taken control of large regions of Syria and Iraq, and have given Christians in their seized land one of three choices: Convert to Islam, pay a non-Islam tax, or be killed.
The Catholic World Report:
The news broke late yesterday that Islamic State jihadists executed freelance journalist James Foley and posted a video of his beheading. Foley, 40, had been missing for two years while covering the conflict in Syria. I am not going to link to the video or include screen shots from it, but I will share another link that has been circulating since the news of Foley’s brutal death: an article he wrote for the alumni magazine of Marquette University, his alma mater. The piece is about the time Foley spent imprisoned in Libya in 2011:
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed.
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone. …
One night, 18 days into our captivity, some guards brought me out of the cell. … Upstairs in the warden’s office, a distinguished man in a suit stood and said, “We felt you might want to call your families.”
I said a final prayer and dialed the number. My mom answered the phone. “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.”
“Jimmy, where are you?”
“I’m still in Libya, Mom. I’m sorry about this. So sorry.” …
“They’re having a prayer vigil for you at Marquette. Don’t you feel our prayers?” she asked.
“I do, Mom, I feel them,” and I thought about this for a second. Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat.
The official made a motion. I started to say goodbye. Mom started to cry. “Mom, I’m strong. I’m OK. I should be home by Katie’s graduation,” which was a month away.
“We love you, Jim!” she said. Then I hung up.
I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head — my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.
My last night in Tripoli, I had my first Internet connection in 44 days and was able to listen to a speech Tom Durkin gave for me at the Marquette vigil. To a church full of friends, alums, priests, students and faculty, I watched the best speech a brother could give for another. It felt like a best man speech and a eulogy in one. It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
And President Obama speaks about the death of James Foley, and the evils of ISIS:
A very informative article here.
The bunch that’s wreaking havoc across parts of Syria and Iraq has not only caused death and destruction, they’ve caused a lot of confusion as well.
In an attempt to clear up some of that, Aleteia reached out to members of its Board of Experts and others in order to compile this primer on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, to use one of its several names. We are grateful for the assistance of Father Elias D. Mallon, external Affairs Officer of the New York-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association; Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa of EWTN, and William Kilpatrick, author of Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for The Soul of The West…
Again, very informative. Read it.
A priest hailing from what used to be Iraq’s largest Christian city has lamented the exodus of over 100,000 Christians from the city, many of whom are fleeing on foot with no food, money or water.
“Today the story of Christianity is finished in Iraq,” said a priest who identified himself as Fr. Nawar.
“People can’t stay in Iraq because there is death for whoever stays,” told CNA Aug. 8.
A priest who has been living and studying in Rome for the last three years, Fr. Nawar is originally from the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh (Bakhdida) on the plains of Nineveh, which was considered the Christian capital of the country until the Kurdish military forces known as the Peshmerga withdrew from it.
The city then fell to forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – known as ISIS – on Wednesday night. Since then more than 100,000 Christians have fled the city, many taking with them nothing but the clothes on their backs.
According to reports from BBC News, the Islamic State militants have taken down crosses and burned religious manuscripts…
Read on here.