07 March 2015

Concerns about the Story of the Vincentians in Syria?

[[Update, Tuesday, 10. March.2015: I noted today that, after several days of silence, comments regarding the kidnapping and threatened murder of the Vincentians --- priests, religious, associates, and their wives and children --- are now being added to the original report on the Vincentian site. I consider that this along with a second report linked in those comments serve to verify the truth of the story.  There are, however, still no further details, no clarifications, no expansions. ]]

[[Dear Sister why has there been no more news on the story of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the kidnappings in Syria? Are you concerned about the truth of the report?]]

Thanks for the question. The original post can be found here Horrific News From Syria, or just by scrolling down a couple of posts. I don't know why there has been no more news though perhaps it is an expression of prudent caution. I was concerned with the truth of the report within 24 hours of my own post because there was almost nothing else in the news. That was especially true since disinformation meant to inflame emotions and biases would serve ISIS's purposes. In any case, the only other post on this was on the Vincentian site. That continues to be true. I have checked the original site each day; the original post has not been removed, retracted, corrected, or clarified. When asked if there was any more news the only response has been there is NO additional news and that was the response of the priest who first posted the story. No additional comments have been added either.

These facts lead me to continue to believe the story is true and that the Vincentians have chosen to maintain silence in the matter. For instance, it would have been quite simple (and imperative) to report everyone is safe and the original story was mistaken if that were the case. We would all have simply rejoiced at that and let the rest go! If the site had been hacked and the report was fraudulent that too could have been easily remedied. It would have also been an important cautionary experience. At the same time I have not been asked to remove or retract my own posts. Should someone from the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Vatican, or my own diocesan Chancery request that, for instance, I would comply in half a heartbeat.

Until there is a correction, confirmation, or an update on the status of the people reported kidnapped and threatened with murder we must continue to pray and not allow our faith to be played off against authentic Islam. As already noted, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into hatred; at the same time we must renew our own baptismal commitments as People of the Cross of Christ. There are many Christians who are living in danger in the Middle East today. They have been deprived of homes, possessions, family, work, school, and the means to support themselves. They have lost precious worship spaces and seen the symbols of their faith demeaned, defaced, and destroyed. In a number of posts over the past year I have provided updates on Dominican Sisters in Iraq who have been in desperate circumstances. They have lost older Sisters due to stress and hardship and they have professed several young Sisters who as juniors have been thrown into vowed life and fulltime ministry under the most difficult conditions imaginable. Their story (the story of all these Christians in fact) is difficult, frightening, and also inspiring. They all need our prayers and our assistance.