Terrorism in the world continues to be a real concern. Media coverage of ISIS and other threatening organizations are commonplace. While adults have the ability to navigate the information about the risks reported in the news, children are not so well equipped to deal with what they are seeing and hearing. Thus, parents, schools and other child advocates are asking for assistance in calming the fears that kids are exhibiting.
Answering the questions of children and calming their fears includes a deeper understanding of Catholic Social Teaching and practical tips on how to help children deal with terror in the world.
The answers to the following questions are based upon Catholic Social Teaching. The follow-up statements are to provide parents and catechists with information to respond to questions and calm fears of young people regarding the violence and brutality of ISIS in the Middle East and beyond.
Does any person or group have the right to brutalize, drive people from their homes, or kill them for their religious beliefs or to force them to adopt a different religion? The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching…. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution [organization or group] is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. (Taken from the Second Theme of Catholic Social Teaching on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person)
Therefore, acts of violence and brutality against individuals or groups of people are evil. No one has the right to attack and kill other people for their religious beliefs or force individuals to change to another religion. Every person must be guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion, which is referred to as religious liberty. In response to terrorism, “as long as the danger of war persists… governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed…. The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2308-2309).
ce and brutality against individuals or groups of people are evil. No one has the right to attack and kill other people for their religious beliefs or force individuals to change to another religion. Every person must be guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion, which is referred to as religious liberty. In response to terrorism, “as long as the danger of war persists… governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed…. The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2308-2309).
Who is protecting us from ISIS and other terrorists’ groups? The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. (Taken from the Fourth Theme of Catholic Social Teaching on Rights and Responsibilities)
It is the responsibility of each person to protect the rights of others. There are many people working to protect us from harm and seeking to help those being persecuted. Some of these groups include:
- The military uses high tech equipment to gather information to stop and capture the people who are harming others.
- Homeland Security works with many organizations including the military and law enforcement officers to keep everyone safe in our country.
- Religious leaders are helping people who have been affected by war and violence by providing food, shelter, and clothing.
- Organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need and Catholic Relief Services are responding to the needs of those who have fled violence in their war-torn countries, providing critical emergency items such as blankets, heaters, and kerosene. Food, shelter, and clothing continue to be provided as the violence and killing continue.
How are we to respond to this violence and terrorism? We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict. (Taken from the Seventh Theme of Catholic Social Teaching on Solidarity) It is the responsibility of each person to work for justice and promote peace, beginning with peace in our own hearts.
- The first way to promote peace is through prayer. We should commit on a daily basis, to pray and offer sacrifices for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters, as well as other religious minorities, who are suffering untold horrors. We can offer up sacrifices to Jesus, such as not watching TV for a day or giving up a desert, for those persecuted for their faith. Someone in need will receive help from the Lord for our sacrifice.
- Second, the people in ISIS do not know the Truth of Jesus Christ, nor have the same moral compass as Christians. This radical Muslim group believes that killing infidels is pleasing to Allah. Therefore, we need to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of those who are perpetrating violence in the world.
- Third, a good deal of violence takes place because people do not know how to forgive. This can lead to people acting out of anger and sadness rather than acting out of love. We can be models of forgiveness by practicing patience, understanding, and forgiveness of those in our own lives and by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation often.
- Fourth, consider making a donation to Aid to the Church in Need http://www.aidtochurch.org/ or Catholic Relief Services http://www.crs.org/ to provide assistance to those suffering Christian persecution. Hundreds of thousands of families are in peril and in need of meaningful interventions to prevent further catastrophe. These Catholic organizations are seeking support for humanitarian efforts, which is critical to protecting and saving lives immediately, as well as preparing for the needs ahead.
By Ann Lankford