Northern Ireland has taught us that democracy does not work but that genuine power sharing does. The world has tried to apply that lesson to the Middle East and the Muslim world but with little success. When people vote along tribal lines the results are known before the votes are cast and counted. To claim the majority then has the rights to full power is a false claim. In a true democracy the Parliament, not the Government, has supreme power.
On Wednesday last we heard Pope Francis speak about the persecution of the Muslim minority in Myanma (Burma). When we saw him break from his set speech to speak even more from the heart we understood his compassion. Why would a Pope speak in defence of a small Muslim minority when we have the two great power blocks of Shia and Sunni (some of whom hate each other more than Protestants and Catholics ever did) would not, and would even persecute such a Muslim minority?
Much as we might detest Assad in Syria we do know that as a member of a Muslim minority (the Alawites) he and his people have no place in the world of Shia and Sunni and that his protection of Christians would also draw the hatred of the power blocs of the Muslim world – including ISIS. President Assad explained his position last week was to defend or to be wiped out.
Pope Francis’ vision is greater that those of political/religious blocs: he sees a world loved by God that we must love, a human family in which everyone has a place, and he wants the human dignity and freedom to be recognised in everyone. We follow him in our love for each of God’s children – whatever religion, race, nationality – and pray and work for a world that gives justice and peace.
Look around our world at the good people in every society who are willing to serve, even at the cost of their lives, that vision of the human family.
God bless them and us,
(12th February 2017)