After the terrorist attack in Our Lady of the Assumption Basilica in Nice


(from the Alphonsian Academy blog)

Still bewildered and saddened by the events of October 29, 2020, in the city of Nice (France), I opened the website of the newspaper Avvenire, and I came across an interesting interview. Lucia Capuzzi spoke with a well-known Muslim authority, Mr. Mohamed Abdesalam Abdellatif, Secretary-General of the Superior Committee of the Human Fraternity and close collaborator great Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb. The interview title: “After the attack in Nice, it is an abominable crime: outside of Islam who practices it” (see the link).

Certainly, these last weeks have been very complicated, with two terrorist attacks motivated by Islam’s instrumentalization. Abdellatif’s words are very harsh on those who were involved in the killings: from those who actually practiced them to those who had a certain participation “from behind the scenes.” He emphasizes that such practices do not represent Islam, but an instrumentalization of it. He recalls the importance of the Document for “Human Fraternity,” signed by Pope Francis and the great Imam. Together with a large part of the Islamic community, he recognizes that there are peaceful and legal ways to assert one’s rights and express discontent.

But what struck me the most was the sentence with which he concluded the interview, answering the last question: “We cannot separate East from West, just as we cannot divide people according to their creed, language, ethnicity. We must realize that we are all brothers, different brothers but brothers”. I immediately remembered the profound theology of the unity and diversity of the “body-Christ” (cf. 1Cor 12) taught by St. Paul, the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel about the other sheep that did not come from the small and near field of vision of the apostles (cf. Jn 10:16), the encyclical Fratelli Tutti by Pope Francis, the universality of the Redemption, etc., etc.

Thus, I am not writing today with theological research rigor, but as a human being, a Christian, who believes that Salvation must necessarily pass through the fraternity. In times when the West itself, the West, finds itself divided by the wounds of history, involved in an almost adolescent insurgent push to deny its roots, to “kill its parents” (in an almost textbook Freudian social dynamic), I ask myself: can the richness of a healthy human plurality be divided, denied, without this being a real sin against the Creator? Doesn’t the univocal proposal of a single way of being human go against the Creator’s unfathomable and multifaceted reality, expressed by the Jewish-Christian tetragrammaton and the 99 Islamic names, disfiguring his image in that of an idol created by the economy of fears absorbed by today’s culture?

Can the right hand not love the left, even though both belong to the same body? Worse, in the strange present moment of selfish divisions and encapsulations, can the right hand (the West), absurdly enough, hate itself? It seems that we live in a world sick of this paranoia: what is not me, what is different from me, must be eliminated. Let us remember that in all cases cancer is the result of cells of the same body that have forgotten who they are, to whom they belong, and what their place is in the organicity of the body.

Fr. Maikel Dalbem, C.Ss.R.