Monday, September 13, 2004
Conflicting Reflections on Beslan
Bishop Gumbleton's Peace Pulpit
column, featured by NCR, gropes for a pacifist response to the Beslan massacre:
Violence is so much a part of our culture. We are living in a world that has become more and more violent. Look what happened last week in Russia. Chechnya has been a colony of Russia for hundreds of years, and the people there are struggling for their freedom. These people -- we call them "terrorists," they call themselves "freedom fighters" -- use grotesque means, like invading the school in Beslan. It ended up with more than 330 people killed, over half of them children. What is the response of President Putin? Well, just like the response of President Bush: "We'll crush them! We'll kill them! We'll do anything to root out this terrorism."
More violence. What sense does it make? Can't we see that what Jesus calls us to do is to give up violence? To respond to hate with love? To love even our enemies?
I fail to understand how, in the case of terrorist maniacs who would willingly slaughter hundreds of innocent schoolchildren while showing an utter unwillingness to negotiate, love can take any other form than the utilization of swift and deliberate force.
This week's Word from Rome
, by John Allen, also on NCR's payroll, includes this report from Feofan Ashurkov, the Orthodox bishop of the diocese in which Beslan resides:
Commenting on the brutality of those who commandeered the school, Feofan said that when a pediatrician arrived and asked permission to check on the children, the response came back that he could enter but he would not come out alive.
"They put a wire in the gym, and attached children and grenades to the wire, as if it were a kind of wreath," he said. "They also mined the entire perimeter."
Feofan described some of the horrors the children in the school experienced.
"They killed the men first, and forced the older children to throw the corpses of their parents out the window," he said.
An interview with Cardinal Renato Martino follows. For one, it seems, I find myself agreeing with Martino: "If a madman attacks me, obviously I have the right to defend myself. Society has the right to defend itself, in the way it has always done when dealing with madmen," Martino said.
# posted by Jamie : 11:09 AM