This popular post was first published on Wednesday, December 15.
One month has passed since the massacre of Catholic Christians by Islamists in Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad. As Christians throughout the world celebrate Advent, which represents the awaiting of the birth of the Christ Child, word is spreading of Adam, a little Catholic boy who, at the tender age of three years old, stood up courageously to the Muslim aggressors in the midst of carnage.
Frances Cardinal George, the outgoing president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, included Adam’s story in his final remarks to the USCCB in November:
Now, at the end of last month, on the vigil of the feast of All Saints, in the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance in the city of Baghdad, many dozens of Catholics were killed as they gathered for Mass. Two were priests: one was killed at the altar and the other as he left the confessional. They are joined in death with hundreds of others who have died for their faith in Christ since the current conflict began. An American Dominican Sister, a friend of a friend, has written from that country: “Waves of grief have enveloped their world, surging along the fault lines created in Iraqi society by the displacement of thousands of Iraq’s Christian minority who have fled what is clearly a growing genocidal threat…One survivor was asked by a reporter, what do you say to the terrorists? Through his tears he said, ‘We forgive you.’…Among the victims of this senseless tragedy was a little boy named Adam. Three-year-old Adam witnessed the horror of dozens of deaths, including that of his own parents. He wandered among the corpses and the blood, following the terrorists around and admonishing them, ‘enough, enough, enough.’ According to witnesses, this continued for two hours until Adam was himself murdered.” As bishops, as Americans, we cannot turn from this scene or allow the world to overlook it.
At three years old, children are beginning to learn from their parents about crossing the street safely and about being careful around strangers. It is at this age that children begin to ask “why” questions.
Little Adam surely knew, as is demonstrated by his actions, that there is no reasonable answer to the question “why” as his parents and others lay dead. It was clear to Adam that a horrible injustice had been done. Adam’s ability to reason was developed enough to recognize blatant injustice. His courage prompted him to act upon what reason had informed his conscience of.
This is critically important to recognize in the debate about Islam vs. Christianity.
Whether Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic or anywhere in between, Christianity universally teaches her members to be ‘as little children.’ It can be said, then, that Adam truly represents Christian fundamentalism. Adam is a perfect model of the true Christian. Islamic fundamentalism, on the other hand, is represented by those who murdered him.
The fact that this little Catholic boy, young though he was, used reason in such a courageous manner in the face of Islamic fundamentalists is also notably consistent with the message of the Vatican in regard to Islam and how Christians should deal with Muslims in daily life.
In his famous Regensburg speech, which prompted Muslim outrage, Pope Benedict XVI exposed Islam as a religion that does not accept reason. He also expressed at length the importance of reason in Christianity. Whenever and wherever Christians have been under the sword of Islam, such as in the case of Aasia Noreen (Asia Bibi), the Vatican has continually responded by calling upon Christians in “daily life” to be clear about the differences between Christianity and Islam, and to appeal to reason in discussions with individual Muslims.
Little Adam used his reason. “Enough, enough, enough,” he said, for two hours to the Islamists, before they murdered him. So it was that Adam, the Christian fundamentalist, fell under the “sword” of the Islamic fundamentalists. Nowhere is there a more clear example of Islam, the violent political/religous system vs. Christianity, where all are called to be “as little children” who must try to use reason with Muslim aggressors, than in Adam, a little Catholic boy who, in my humble opinion, will someday be known as St. Adam of Baghdad, the youngest saint of the Catholic Church.