Today we remember those who died in the terrorist attacks against the United States by al Qaida operatives. As the war in Iraq continues unabated, and the immediacy of the events of this date recede in our collective memory, we perhaps need to recall that we live in a world that is still as dangerous a place as it has ever been in history. We Americans have been insulated from much misery that is the common experience of most of the world. The blessings of our geography and our commerce have protected us from the beginning of our nation. They will not continue to do so.
As I reflect on the plight of Christians in Muslim countries, I believe that they act as a moderating influence in the middle east. The Grand Prior (Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston) of our Lieutenancy of the EOHSJ recently wrote:
You have heard often that the number of Christians in the Holy Land is dwindling. It seems to me that many think of "dwindling" in the sense it has when we speak of "dwindling oil supplies: or dwindling arctic ice pack." In this sense, there is progressively less and less petroleum, the are covered by the ice pack year by year seems to decrease. Would we, though say that oil supplies were merely "dwindling' in in ten years the amount of reserves fell by 80%? Would we say that the arctic ice pace was "dwindling" if its area decrease at ten or twenty times the rate we have observed?Yet that is just what is happening to the Christian population in the Holy Land and surrounding countries. The World Council of Churches, according to a report by Newsweek Magazine, has estimated that in the last decade the number of Christians in that part of the world has plunged from 10 million to 2 million. Understandably, exact numbers are difficult to get, but anecdotal evidence is quite clear, and even the most casual observer can see that the decline has been precipitous.You are tempted to think that the reason so many Christians are fleeing the Holy Land is because they are caught in the cross-fire, so to speak, between Muslims and Jews. But surveys attest clearly that economic reasons are the principal motives for emigration. Perhaps we can do little to compose the peace between Muslims and Jews, but we can do a great deal to help the economic situation of Christians in the Holy Land. Tourism is an important industry here in the United States, but relatively even more so in the Holy Land, and particularly for our Christian brethren there. (From the letter of August 2007)
I believe that if the economic situation of the peoples of the middle east were relieved, then much of the strife that destablizes the whole world would be mightily asuaged.