Thirty-eight prominent Catholic university professors and other scholars, editors, fellows, and retired military personnel have signed a plea at IraqRescue.org calling for “the United States and the international community [to] act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities.”
Over the past several months the Sunni militant group ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria / Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has marched throughout Iraq, stopping short of Baghdad. More than 1,700 Iraqis were killed in July alone, according to The Wall Street Journal.
President Obama announced on August 7 that he had authorized limited airstrikes in addition to the provisions of food and water that were airdropped for the 10,000 to 40,000 Yazidi civilians driven out by the escalating conflict, as reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Iraq's Christian communities are some of the oldest in the world, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. The estimated 450,000 still remaining in the country have fallen under severe persecution with ISIS calling for all Christians “in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death,” as reported by CBS News. The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that the terrorists are “beheading children and burying people alive.”
Pope Francis condemned the atrocities in his Sunday Angelus, covered by the Vatican News Service:
The news reports coming from Iraq leave us in dismay and disbelief: thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women taken and carried off; people massacred; violence every kind; destruction of historical, cultural and religious patrimonies. All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!
The signers of the IraqRescue.org plea have called for President Obama to expand the airstrikes and provide full air support to the forces opposed to ISIS/ISIL. They emphasize the gravity of the atrocities by pointing out that they believe all other options have been exhausted:
We, the undersigned, are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are conservatives, liberals, and moderates. We represent various religious traditions and shades of belief. None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force. Where non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights are available, we always and strongly favor those means. However, the evidence is overwhelming that such means will not be capable of protecting the victims of the genocide already unfolding at the hands of ISIS/ISIL.
The signees represent a sweeping demographic of views, and include many influential Catholic leaders and professors from Catholic universities: Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University; Gerald Bradley, professor of law at University of Notre Dame; Dan Robinson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University; Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project and visiting associate professor at Georgetown University; Robert Lieber, professor at Georgetown University; Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College; Patrick Lee, professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville; Michael Strokes Paulsen, professor at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota; and many others.
The plea concludes by saying that the current threat is not only to the Yazidi civilians and those immediately in harm's way, but also to “Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan,” and urges recognition "that justice as well as compassion demands that we take the steps necessary to end the ISIL/ISIS campaign of genocide and protect those who are its victims.”