Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Italian publication says it does not see ISIS violence as 'war of religion'

Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Sep 8, 2014 / 11:10 am (CNA).- Jesuit-run Italian newspaper La Civiltà Cattolica has clarified that it does not view ISIS violence as a 'war of religion,' although it believes the radical group sees its aggression in this manner.

The clarification comments involve an editorial published in the most recent issue of the newspaper.

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor-in-chief of the publication, told CNA that the editorial stated “that ISIS thinks it's in a 'war of religion,' but WE must be on guard against thinking that way.”

He voiced his disappointment at what he described as “false news” being circulated about the editorial.

On Sept. 4, prominent Vatican analyst Sandro Magister noted the editorial in a post for his Settimo Cielo blog at l'Espresso. He said the article expresses a view of ISIS aggression as a religious war, and that this view can in fact be extended to apply to the Holy See as well. CNA covered Magister’s analysis Sept. 4.

“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 had suggested that the editorial represented the stance of the Holy See, observing that “Each line of 'La Civiltà Cattolica' is passed beforehand for examination by authorities of the Vatican, who allow publication, or not.”

The editorial also suggests that current military efforts to stop the radical group are inadequate and urges that ISIS “should be cut off from its supply of arms, the recruitment and training of new combatants, it financing channels, energy infrastructure, and logistics.”

ISIS – also known as the Islamic State (IS) – emerged as 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 radical terrorist has persecuted all non-Sunni persons in its territory: Christians, Yazidis, and Shias have all fled the caliphate.

Fr. Spadaro said that the editorial was showing the importance of realizing that ISIS militants view the conflict as a war of religion, although La Civiltà Cattolica does not share that view.

Magister, however, maintained that his analysis was true to the views being expressed in the editorial, from which he quoted heavily.

“Euphemisms do not help in bringing clarity,” he told CNA. “Actually, in this case they take us away from reality. For a war to be defined as 'religious,' it suffices that one of the contenders reputes it as such and fights in this perspective. And this is exactly what 'La Civiltà Cattolica' asserts regarding the war unleashed by IS.”

He continued, “Showing its agreement, the magazine justly quotes the editorial of Ernesto Galli della Loggia in 'Corriere della Sera' which begins with this: 'Question number one: How can we make war against an aggressor that continuously invokes God and its religious affiliation without also inevitably giving an equally religious character to any military response? In other words: Is it truly necessary, in order to speak of a religious war that both adversaries proclaim it as such, or does it suffice instead that only one do it? If someone kills me because I am a Shiite, a Christian, a Hebrew or an 'infidel' and I try to defend myself by hitting back, what else is this if not a religious conflict?'”


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