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Ten years hence

Terrorism: Looking Ahead Through Patterns of the Past

April 25, 2008

On April 25, 2008, the Rev. Edward A. (Monk) Malloy, CSC, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, presented, "Terrorism: Looking Ahead Through Patterns of the Past," which contained the following excerpts:

  • There have been three Christian approaches to war: pacifism, the "just war" theory that tries to "regulate" conduct in war, and the Crusades, where the attitude was to kill and destroy everything associated with an opponent.
  • The Crusade mentality also ushered in the Inquisition, where thousands were tortured and killed in an effort to eradicate heresy or false belief. The enlightenment in western Europe led to Christian groups rejecting the Crusade mentality and the practices of the Inquisition.
  • The U.S. government defines terrorism as pre-meditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national or clandestine groups. Terrorism is a strategy of the minority and elicits fear, dread, angst and horror.
  • After 9/11, the great temptation in the face of terrorism – especially suicide terrorism – is to return to the mentality of the Crusade and the practices of the Inquisition.
  • There is a great debate within radical Islam today about whether the priority ought to be to purify existing Muslim countries or go after the "Satanic" West, with all the sexual immorality identified with it.
  • One of the arguments about why we have not had another terrorist attack within the continental United States since 9/11 is that we have them fighting over there instead of here. But you cold also argue that it is because a lot of attention is being given to radical Islamic groups and the purification of Islamic countries before trying to take on the West.
  • The evidence is overwhelming that torture does not work as a method of getting access to the truth, and that it demeans both the torturer and the person being tortured.
  • Torture violates international law and Christian teaching, and it ought to be abandoned. Commanders who authorized it in the first place should be held as accountable as the people charged with carrying it out.
  • Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO and other groups have all operated on the grounds that they represent an oppressed people and they need to lash out in order to get world opinion turned in their favor – thus the use of terrorism in its various forms. Until there is a willingness to address all those levels of problems, it is going to be hard to have a sustained period of peace.
  • The Catholic Church, to do its job, needs to regain its moral authority, particularly in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. Christians are called to take our values and translate them concretely as best we can in business, education, the professions, the military and politics.

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