Monday, March 17, 2008

From the Pulpit to the Prison Cell

A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The priest was convicted for leading a militia to kill 1500 Tutsi refugees in a church. After failing to kill many of them by having fuel poured through the roof while grenades were thrown inside, the priest ordered the church demolished, killing the remaining refugees.

Peace, love, understanding, sanctity of human life. Obviously, this priest does not represent the views of the Catholic Church, and I am in no way suggesting that he does or ever did. It does bring to mind the Church's silence during the Holocaust, however, and the millennia-long internal contradiction between the Church's stated position and its orders and actions that include holy wars (like the crusades) and persecutions against pagans, Jews, and other Christian groups.

In the words of George Carlin, "Sanctity of life. You believe in it? Personally, I think it's a bunch of shit. Well, I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey, if you read history, you realize that god is one of the leading causes of death." Hard to argue with the man.

Now I do not believe that being in a church should exempt a criminal from being apprehended by law enforcement authorities, but I do believe that, whenever possible, places of worship should be exempted from the horrors of war, even when soldiers stay there. If a church becomes a base of operations, or a firing station, it should be attacked. But if a soldier lays down his weapons and hides out in a church, I could see him being protected there. A civilian seeking refuge in a church, however, should never have to justify the sanctuary of a church. And for a priest to destroy a church in order to kill the civilians seeking refuge there? It ranks with some of the worst actions in all of human history.

Let the priest rot away in prison. There is no punishment too severe for this prime example of the scum of the Earth.