Just after I arrived home yesterday from Easter Mass, and gathered my children for an obligatory Easter photo to send to their grandparents. As I finished texting the photos to my mom and dad, I opened my social media feeds to find that another terrorist attack had claimed the lives of hundreds, many of them Catholics also attending Easter Mass, in the Asian island nation of Sri Lanka.
I will warn you now, before I go on, that some of the images I will be sharing in this story are disturbing. They depict the aftermath of what Cardinal Robert Sarah aptly described as “barbaric Islamist violence.”
What we now know, according to a report in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, is that “at least 290 people have been killed and around 500 injured in Sri Lanka after suicide bombers from a religious extremist group struck churches and hotels in multiple cities on Sunday morning. Three Catholic churches were targeted while their Easter services were under way, and three five-star hotels were attacked in and around the country’s capital, Colombo.”
The Intelligencer report says that “Sri Lankan authorities have asked media organizations to not publish the names of the attackers or give extremists ‘a voice’ — noting that groups may seek to inflame tensions and spark violence in the aftermath of the attack.”
Of course, as we know, this is often a tactic used to avoid mentioning that the perpetrators of a given attack are Muslims. And it turns out — as Cardinal Sarah indicated — that’s the case here, as well. A Sri Lankan Islamic group known as National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) has now been blamed for the bombing, and 24 suspects have already been arrested. All are reported to be Sri Lankan nationals.
Nevertheless, Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said in a press conference that officials “do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country.”
“There was an international network,” Senaratne continued, “without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”
Journalist and author Paul Sperry says that authorities both in Sri Lanka and the United States suspect that the bombers trained with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “Like ISIS,” Sperry tweeted, “their Islamist group obsessed w “Tawhid” monotheism — no God but Allah, no partners (Jesus) — why they raise the 1 finger.”
One of the first reports I saw was this one, from Fr. Joseph Krupp, a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, who signaled the deeper spiritual significance of the attacks for Christians on Easter:
Hundreds of Christians murdered at Church on Easter Sunday.
But we are not afraid; we stand with Him Who Rose from the dead, so we are more than conquerors.
— Fr. Joseph Krupp (@Joeinblack) April 21, 2019
It became immediately clear, too, that the same Leftists who had no problem expressing solidarity with the “Muslim community” against “Islamophobia” after the New Zealand attacks were searching for euphemisms to avoid describing the Sri Lanka bombings as “Christophobic.” No expressions of solidarity with the Catholic or Christian Community were offered; instead, the victims were described as “Easter worshipers”…whatever that means.
Given that Christians are the most persecuted religious group on the planet, with vast numbers more Christians being killed by Islamists than vice-versa, why are global leaders afraid to even use the word “Christian” in their condolences? pic.twitter.com/PPqlrXIcPs
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) April 22, 2019
Eduard Habsburg, the Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See, pushed back hard against this term:
It’s Christians that have been killed, not “Easter Worshippers”. Let’s repeat that for all who try to skirt the word: Christians. And just once more: Christians. #SriLanka
— Eduard Habsburg (@EduardHabsburg) April 22, 2019
As if to emphasize the point of who the victims really were, the following photo began circulating accompanied by a description saying that first communicants were killed in the attacks:
Further research, however, indicates that this photo was from a tragic bus accident in Sri Lanka last week, in which 10 people were killed. Unfortunately, as the world grieves over a tragedy like this, it’s easy for false stories of this kind to go viral. That said, among the hundreds of dead and wounded were many children, and the fact that the above image is unrelated to the story does nothing to blunt the tragedy of their slaughter.
To make matters worse, Sri Lankan authorities had been warned by the international intelligence community about possible suicide bombers attacking “prominent churches” weeks before the attacks, but nothing appears to have been done to stop them.
The US State Department is continuing to warn that more terror attacks are possible in Sri Lanka and could occur with “little or no warning.”
Please pray for those who have died or been wounded in these attacks, and for the consolation of their families. And remember that we are not just in a metaphorical war for the soul of the Church, but an actual war — whether we want it or not — with adherents of Islam who want to see us converted, subjugated, or killed. Please pray, too, for the conversion of Muslims, and the defeat of the evil ideology behind these attacks.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children.