Massacre of the innocents: Isil are today’s King Herods say Archbishops
Posted on December 27th, 2015

By , Religious Affairs Editor Courtesy The Telegraph

Jihadists driven by vision of ‘apocalypse’ warns Welby in stark Christmas message

Britain’s two most senior clerics have drawn on the darker side of the nativity story in hard-hitting Christmas sermons warning of the possible elimination” of Christianity from the region of its birth.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, both draw comparisons between the Biblical account of the mass murder of children around Bethlehem on the orders of King Herod and the 21st Century Jihadist threat.

In his Christmas morning sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby is expected to warn that that the so-called Islamic State group – also known as Isil, Isis or Daesh – wants to bring apocalypse” to the Middle East and beyond, driven by an obsessive belief that they are living in the last days”.

Meanwhile Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, also used his Christmas address to speak of the surge in murder driven by faith, something he condemned as abhorrent”.

Islamic State fighter on the march in Raqqa

In a homily during Christmas midnight mass at Westminster Cathedral he also alluded to Herod’s massacre of the innocents and described Christians being murdered by Islamist extremists as martyrs.

“Today’s Herods, Isis and the like around the world in so many faiths, propose false apocalypses.”
Archbishop Justin Welby

He described the idea of violence in the name of God” as a corruption of true faith”.

The two impassioned messages come at the end of a year marked by slaughter and mass-displacement of religious minorities including Shia Muslims, Yazidis or Christians across Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Both clerics have publicly urged the Government to open the UK to significantly more refugees fleeing the region – pointedly likening the experience of those crossing the Mediterranean to Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus escaping into Egypt to avoid the wrath of Herod.

• Egyptian Christians wait for news of loved ones kidnapped by Isil

Speaking last week at an event hosted by Cardinal Nichols, the Prince of Wales also warned of the risk of Christianity being effectively wiped out in Iraq – once a centre of Christian scholarship – within five years.

Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted in Libya hold their photos in front of the foreign ministry in Cairo, Egypt  Photo: Hassan Ammar/AP

In his sermon Archbishop Welby is expected to describe Isil as a Herod of today”.

Using the word apocalypse” in the original Greek meaning – as an unveiling or revelation – he contrasts the message of hope summed up by the angels announcing the birth of Jesus with the deadly vision put forward by Jihadists and other religious extremists.

Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God’s apocalypse, Isis and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse – an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression.

Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirms that these are indeed the end times.

They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began.

This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death.”

Isil video showing the aftermath of the murder of Coptic Christians  Photo: Universal News and Sport

Drawing a comparison with the Biblical account of the nativity, he continues: Herod too gets this apocalypse.

He senses that this tiny, helpless, vulnerable, utterly normal child is the ultimate threat to his power and authority.”

He will add: Force meets love, and love has to flee into Egypt and returns to ordinary life and eventually to a cross and an empty tomb, conquering the world.

At Christmas we are confronted with God’s form of power, which judges all our forms of power.

To all who have been or are being dehumanised by the tyranny and cruelty of a Herod or an Isis, a Herod of today, God’s judgement comes as good news, because it promises justice.”

“Violence in the name of God is abhorrent – it is always a corruption of true faith.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Contrasting how, in the gospel accounts, the shepherds set out to worship the baby Jesus but Herod wanted to kill him, the Archbishop will add: Today’s Herods, Isis and the like around the world in so many faiths, propose false apocalypses.

But you and I are called to respond in worship and transforming, world-changing obedience, both as individuals, and together, to this revelation of the baby that defines God, for it is our response to Jesus that defines us.”

Speaking at midnight mass, Cardinal Nichols said the image of a baby was the antithesis of the violent message preached by religious extremists.

As this child is God in our flesh, then violence has no place at all in his presence,” he said.

Even more emphatically, it means that any claim to justify such violence in the name of God is abhorrent – it is always a corruption of true faith.”

Urging Catholics to pray for victims of religiously-motivated violence, he said: We pray especially for our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer grievously for their faith in Jesus as their Lord, losing life and belongings, suffering torture and unspeakable cruelty for his sake.

As we pray for their courage, we remember that Boxing Day is the Feast of St Stephen – the first Martyr – and that on 28th December we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children slaughtered out of hatred and fear of Jesus.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress