by John Rossomando 12 Aug 2014, 12:56 PM PDT
Military intervention in Iraq may be the only way to stop the genocide against the country's Christian minority by the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS), a senior Vatican diplomat says.
"At this moment, we hope the voice that is surging from different Christian and religious communities, from moderate Muslims, from people of good will around the world, may find the response of concrete humanitarian assistance that is provided for the Christians in northern Iraq as well as some political and even effective military protection," Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations told Vatican Radio.
This marks the first time a Vatican official has supported military action of any kind in recent memory. Pope John Paul II condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
At least 100,000 Christians have fled their villages in the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq, according to Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako. Last month, the Islamic State ordered Christians living in Mosul to pay the jizyah tax mandated by the Quran, convert to Islam, or face death.
Sako called the Islamic State's onslaught a "Way of the Cross" for Iraq's Christians who have been in the region since the beginnings of Christianity. They have been forced to flee on foot amid Iraq's summer heat.
"They are using the sword to cut off hands and also beheading others so I don't think this is the behavior of human beings, but wild animals do that," an Iraqi Christian refugee told CBN News.
Islamic State terrorists have looted the Christians' possessions – everything from dentures to wedding rings – leaving them destitute. Churches have been burned or converted into mosques. Ancient Christian manuscripts also have been burned, and Christian symbols have been desecrated.
"They are killing our people in the name of Allah and telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven," Archbishop Toma Dawod of the Syrian Orthodox Church told U.K.'s The Guardian newspaper following the fall of Qaraqosh, which had been Iraq's largest Christian city, to the Islamic State.
Archbishop Tomasi also complained that a "certain indifference" to Christian suffering in Iraq existed in the international community.
"It is difficult to convince—because of false modesty, I would say—the Western powers to take a strong stance in defense of the Christians," Tomasi said.
This stance was echoed by Sako, who complained that President Obama's decision to bomb Islamic State artillery positions near the Kurdish region was inadequate and that humanitarian aid alone was insufficient.
"The position of the American President Obama to only give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing," Sako wrote. "The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh plain.
"There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists."