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Religion and Society

The Christian “No” to Religious Violence: a Kairos for All Men?

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, detail []

If instances of religious conflict have fuelled the prejudice that monotheism is a factor for violence, the journey made by Christianity emphasises its irreversible leave-taking of violence committed in the name of God

Last update: 2018-02-02 14:31:33

[This article is published in Oasis n. 20. Click here to buy a copy of this issue of Oasis and here to subscribe to the journal]



The complex relationship between monotheism and violence[1] has been the object of study by the International Theological Commission. In its recent document God the Trinity and the Unity of Humanity. Christian Monotheism and its Opposition to Violence, the Commission offers a detailed exposition of recent developments in Catholic theological awareness of this subject.[2]The document does not study every dimension of the moral problem of violence (war, terrorism and other forms of conflict) but it specifically pronounces on the relationship between religion (i.e. monotheistic religion) and violence.[3]



There is no doubt about the fact that the history of violence amongst men and the history of religious experience are problematically interwoven. The document openly recognises this difficulty. It cannot be denied that throughout man’s religious history there have been very many moments of inconsistency, infidelity or exploitation of religion for purposes wholly unconnected with it. Furthermore, it cannot be denied that this abuse has been a real obstacle to an understanding of the problem, making it easier to propagate the image of a religion-generated violence that must be definitively eradicated.



It should be noted immediately, however, that the phases of mankind’s history that have been lived under the banner of autonomous rationality cannot claim to be without spot or stain either. If, on the one hand, it is true that western civilization has, right from its Greek origins, reflected very profoundly on violence so as to contain it, where possible, through the use of reason, it is also true that modern, secularized reason has the sorry distinction of enjoying pre-eminence where the systematic application of reason as a tool for increasing violence’s dark effectiveness is concerned.



Religion can be exploited – against its nature – for the purposes of producing political violence and, in fact, it has been so exploited. But the political violence of secularization and atheism during the so-called age of reason is no less devastating, when subjected to an impartial historical analysis.



However that may be, the history of conflicts having a (real or presumed) religious origin that may be painfully recognised on earth even today has fostered that prejudice according to which religions (and monotheistic religions, especially) would, by their very nature, be a factor that divides men. The “logical” consequence of such reasoning would be that, in order to put an end to the violence and guarantee universal peace, there would only be one solution: society’s secularization.



This argument is one of the forms that anti-religious thought is currently assuming in the West. Formally, it is not so much God who is being fought (except, perhaps, in the debate about the “new atheism” in the scientific field) as religion and religious man. This mentality denounces religious faith as a social disease. As is known, the origins of this radical rejection of religion are not recent. In the West, the modern, religiously neutral and politically omnipotent state has imposed itself from at least the eighteenth century onwards, proclaiming itself the remedy capable of guaranteeing a peaceful, shared living in respect to the wars of religion.



The ‘practical’ containment of the Christian confessions was then extended to the monotheistic religions. These were accused of producing an intolerant ‘mentality’ in their believers, the latter being convinced that they possessed a universal and absolute truth. In the words of Schopenhauer, which have lost none of their relevance today ‘Intolerance is essential only to monotheism; an only God is by nature a jealous God who will not allow another to live. On the other hand, polytheistic gods tend to be tolerant; they live and let live… Thus it is only the monotheistic religions that furnish us with the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, courts for trying heretics, and also with that of iconoclasm, the destruction of the images of foreign gods’.[4]






Despotic Truth 



In no uncertain terms, the German philosopher’s words summarize the ideology that presents monotheistic religion and violence as two aspects of one and the same principle. Nevertheless, the cultural process has gone further, to the point of considering the very idea of ‘truth’ to be a despotic imposition. This by virtue of its historical link with philosophical thought about God and with the Christian faith in God. Without going into detail, the Commission’s document calls attention to the fact that such an idea of truth reflects, rather, the rationalistic prejudice in favour of truth’s separation from man’s conscience and from his freedom (ab-solute reason, in the two senses that the word’s etymology permits: ‘separated-from’ conscience and freedom and ‘total measure’ of reality).



Indeed, it was rationalism that introduced the idea of a conceiving of truth that was separated from any responsibility for welcoming it. ‘Deism’ itself is an example of ‘rational’ monotheism that has rejected the Christian revelation insofar as it carries within itself a connection between God’s personal communication and an individual’s personal welcoming of faith. Thus, in the name of a reason legitimated by the Supreme Being and by divine Nature, deist monotheism became paradoxically aggressive towards the very Christian traditions themselves.



During the last few decades, this prejudice against monotheism has been accompanied by the proposal to consider religious ‘polytheism’ as better suited to both the pluralism and the tolerance that are proper to modern civil society. The basis for such a negative attitude is the theory that relativism would be the only philosophy truly compatible with the demands of liberal democracy and, for this reason, every form of behaviour that refers to a transcendent, universal and absolute truth (and, therefore, monotheism, obviously) is perceived as a threat to civil peace.



It will be helpful to remember, as regards the development of these positions, that, historically, religious polytheism has not in any way shown itself (nor is it showing itself now) to be necessarily tolerant and wholly uncontaminated by violence, as the examples cited in the text substantiate: the polytheistic Hellenic monarchy’s attitude towards the Maccabees or the polytheistic Roman empire’s relentless persecution of Christians. Furthermore, when polytheism is paired with tolerance’s pluralism, one is seriously overlooking the fact that, in the current regime of individual and group self-exaltation, the peaceful co-existence of idols appears utterly improbable.






Purification of the Biblical Revelation



The task is thus, inevitably, that of evaluating the Christian people’s historical journey in welcoming and interpreting the Word of God, so as to be able to contextualize its real message regarding the relationship between the divine and violence.[5] In order to do this, it is necessary, first of all, to offer a key to understanding those pages of the bible that, more than others, seem to justify the infamous nexus between monotheism and violence.



In the history of the People of Israel, listening to the Word of God required a slow apprenticeship. Faced with a religiousness that had been contaminated by the conflict-inducing influence of neighbouring religions, the chosen people felt increasingly driven to distance itself from those other representations of the divine and their vision of history. The historical journey of the revelation to Israel provides the most pertinent interpretation of this maturation of religion, which reaches its full novelty in the revelation made by Jesus.



This is the reason why Christianity has always, throughout its history, refused to reject the Scriptures that bear witness to the revelation of the ancient alliance. And it has also always refused to consider the ‘God’ of that revelation as conflicting with that of Jesus’s revelation, as if the Christian novelty could be founded on His rejection.



There nevertheless remains the difficulty of interpreting exactly what thread connects the Old and New Testaments through the understanding of Scripture that Jesus Himself inaugurated and that the Holy Spirit continues. The pages of the Bible testifying to ‘God’s’ involvement in events in which violence really seems to be tolerated, or even prescribed, by the divine will present a particular difficulty. In this sense, the document acknowledges the existence of ‘difficult pages’ that are, moreover, widely known to the whole Christian tradition, whose criteria for a critical reading it briefly lists.



Before indicating the crucial points of the answer that Christian revelation offers regarding the relationship between God and violence, however, it should be noted that there exist two false solutions that the Christian tradition has never wished to pursue.[6]



The first would consist in dissociating Christianity from monotheism by recognising the latter’s violent nature but specifying that Christianity escapes this accusation because it announces the mystery of God the Trinity who is, in se, communion in difference. As if to say that Christianity is monotheistic ‘but not too monotheistic’. The reality is quite the opposite, notes the document: the Trinitarian mystery does not in any way assert itself at monotheism’s expense.



Of course, the confession of faith in the Trinity does profoundly shape the Christian understanding of monotheism. However, if the concept of monotheism is not univocal, it is not equivocal, either. The International Theological Commission discards the ‘philosophical, and also religious, misunderstanding caused by the suspicion that the Christian emphasis on God’s incarnation, like the Trinitarian relationship in the life of God, occurs at the cost of losing God’s purity, transcendence and perfect simplicity’ (para. no. 78). The assertion of God’s absolute simplicity (on which the document insists) ensures that the confession of the Trinity is not a de facto tritheism compensated by the consequent communion of persons, but that it is inseparable from recognition of the divine substance’s Oneness, as reason already requires.



A second, simple apologetic solution would be to dissociate Christian faith from religion by conceding that religion is a factor for violence but specifying that Christianity stems not from religion but from faith. Au contraire, the document insists on the intrinsic value of the religious experience as such. Just as grace does not destroy nature but heals it and brings it to its fulfilment, so the Christian faith assumes the religious dimension of the human condition. It purifies it by leading it back to its authentic essence, which then inseparably unites love of God with love of one’s neighbour in such a way that every form of violence in the name of God must be considered ‘a corruption of religion’ (Introduction).






One of the Trinity Has Suffered for Me



Having ruled out these two false solutions, the Christian faith asserts, instead, that violence ‘in the name of God’ is a real departure from doctrine.[7] To those who might see in this assertion a yielding to the spirit of the times, the reply must be that, on the contrary, this conviction springs from the very heart of the Gospel. The document sets out to ‘neutralize the religious justification of violence, on the strength of the Christological and Trinitarian truth about God’ (Introduction).



The rejection of every form of religious violence is brought about, above all, by a contemplation of Jesus Christ during His Passion, Who ‘was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; [and] when he was tortured […] made no threats but put his trust in the righteous judge’ (1 Pt 2:23). Without such fact justifying any morbid divinization of suffering, Christ takes men’s violence (including religious violence) upon himself, as a victim, and destroys it at its root with the power of love.



Thus violence cannot be justified either in order to avenge God’s rights or to save men despite themselves, since ‘the truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth’ (Dignitatis Humanae 1). This is the paradox of Christianity: a scrupulous respect of religious freedom is not motivated by some form of relativism but derives from what is most ‘dogmatic’ in the idea of God that the Christian faith offers.



Indeed, through a reasoned biblical and theological argument, the document shows that it is God the Father Himself who frees us from violence by freely handing over His incarnate Son in the Holy Spirit.[8] In actual fact, in His obedience to the Father, the incarnate Son freely accepted to be the target of men’s violence. He took this violence upon Himself, in the sense that He suffered human violence in His very person in order to overcome it: He answered such violence with the forgiveness of his redeeming love. Here we find an assertion that is absolutely specific to Christian monotheism: One of the Trinity voluntarily accepted suffering (Unus de Trinitate passus est) in order to free us from sin and from the suffering that it begets, particularly the sin that consists of unjust and violent actions.



This radical breaking of violence’s cycle has three consequences, in particular. First of all, Christians are called to follow the example of their Master by adopting a non-violent form of behaviour that is moved by forgiveness. In the second place, forgiveness lived in faith and charity carries within itself the hope of sharing in Christ’s glorious resurrection: in the Holy Spirit, our human flesh’s vocation is nothing less than that of being admitted into the Trinity’s fullness of life. In the third place, the Church, as sacrament of the union with God and of the unity of the whole of mankind, has the mission of working for the reconciliation of all men.



We are, therefore, put on our guard against those reductive arguments that unilaterally insist on an exaltation of love as weakness i.e. weakness separated from divine power. Were it so, a God whose love is unable to defeat death and who is abased to the extreme of complete failure, would offer us no greater consolation than that of a useless sentimental closeness. The love of the Triune God, on the other hand, shows us how generation and, with it, filiation – which all human beings have experienced because we are all sons and daughters – may be fully realised in God.



The mystery of divine unity and oneness is as divine as the mystery of the Son’s eternal generation by the Father, in the Holy Spirit. The proposal that God the Son makes us is that of a generated freedom that does not need either to resign itself to the Father or to rebel against Him but to be, precisely, filial; in order to achieve the greatest self-possession. Those who experience that good that their own father constitutes, not only during childhood and adolescence but also throughout their lives, will fully understand the Christian announcement’s credibility.






An Opportunity for Everyone



The journey just described allows a thesis that may be of particular interest in the context of interreligious dialogue to be understood better. Indeed, the document states, ‘Today we find ourselves facing a “true kairòs of the Spirit”’ (para. 64; see para. 18, as well). And it explains it in this way: ‘During this phase of history, Christianity stands – and stands exposed – as a global and unequivocal point of reference for denouncing the radical contradiction in a violence amongst men that is committed in the name of God. As such, it is called to purify and reinvigorate its ministry of reconciling men: whether they be religious or non-religious. That will probably require some prioritising at both a reflective and a practical level.



The document further considers that this kairos implies ‘an epochal U-turn for today’s globalized universe’, which will be very fruitful for the new season of testimony and evangelization. Such new awareness is considered to be ‘a grace that purifies and makes God’s Christological novelty transparent; a step forward along the path of the Church’s implementing the mystery of Redemption’ (64).



Certain theoretical and practical tasks stem from this renewed awareness of the present moment’s importance. In the first place, Christians are asked to ‘humbly recognise their many instances of resistance, their omissions and the contradictions that have culpably obstructed the completion of this maturation’ (para. 64). In the second place and as far as the Church’s relationship with religions and cultures is concerned, it is emphasised that the ‘Church’s leave-taking of religious violence has the vigour of a seed destined to produce special fruit in our era, threatened as it is by the return of an archaic sacred concept of ethnic-political hatred’ (65).



In the third place, it will also be necessary to ‘formulate a criticism of anti-religious violence with the utmost determination [insofar as] there also exist destructive excesses in political and economic secularized reason, which the powers behind the financial domination and the force of the media’s technocracy can render devastating’ (65). Finally, in this kairos, the particularly humiliated condition of those Christians who are persecuted to the point of martyrdom must be publicly proclaimed and defended everywhere: ‘We are indebted to our many brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their Christian faith. We honour their testimony as the decisive response to the question about the meaning of the Christian mission in favour of everyone. Their courage has opened the era of a new vividness regarding the relationship between religion and violence amongst men’ (100).



As we can see, the ITC is well aware that a cultural diagnosis and an accurate description of the content of the Christian revelation is not enough.[9] There is a need to go as far as identifying a task of purification and testimony. Such a responsibility is not simply the proper response to history’s present provocations. At a deeper level, it is a question of seizing the propitious moment called into being by God’s Spirit. By recognising Christian history’s tensions and inconsistencies, we have today reached the threshold of outgrowing the possible confusion between the value of testimony and the domination of a (political, economic or social) power that induces violence in God’s name.



Historical conditions have fostered – admittedly, very painfully – a sense of the urgency of understanding better the revelation that had, in any event, already been testified by the first generations of Christians. In the teaching of the Church’s magisterium and in the feelings of the whole of God’s people, the possible ambiguity of a confession of faith that is united to the practice of violence is definitively denounced as an unsustainable contradiction.






A Historical Testing of the Christian Proposal



The thesis that the outgrowing of religious violence in Christian consciousness may also influence other religious experiences has been argued, up to this point, from a position within Christian doctrine and practice. The question of its testing in history nevertheless remains open. Can it be said that the journey in the maturing of Christian consciousness on this point has, in actual fact, had an influence on the extra-Christian cultures?



An answer would obviously require exhaustive research on Christianity’s relationship with the world cultures and religions, something that lies outside my assignment. I can only mention that not a few authoritative scholars have documented how the new Christological faith is to be considered – together with Greece’s philosophy, Rome’s legal practice and Israel’s faith – one of the roots of what is called western culture.[10] More particularly, if we want to identify a precise anthropological content, it may be argued, for example, that the understanding of the human ‘person’ has been decisively influenced by the revelation of the Triune God.[11] And a similar influence may be recognised in political theory regarding the theory of the separation of Church and state that began with the gospel passage ‘to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God’ (Mt 22:21).[12] It therefore seems to be a consolidated fact that such influence has been not just possible but also real.



Now, as regards the issues with which we have been concerned, can it be said that the proposition of a leave-taking of religious violence has already had or may now have repercussions on the world of religions and on the Islamic world, in particular? It is still too early to say and the question is becoming delicate but one might, perhaps, try to propose an example. According to the document, the break with violence finds one of its highest forms of expression in a free acceptance of death, in imitation (through grace) of Jesus, through martyrdom. It therefore seems that the testimony of martyrs exemplifies, in the highest manner, the gospel awareness of the prohibition against using violence in God’s name.



If this specific feature of the Christian understanding of God were already to have had some effect on the consciousness of men who follow another religion (and Islam, in particular), this could perhaps be read as a first step for going more deeply into the thesis I have presented (whilst remaining fully aware that it requires a deeper analysis than is possible here).



One of the episodes that left the greatest mark on public opinion (and not only Western public opinion) was the assassination of seven Cistercian monks from the monastery of Tibhirine (Algeria) in 1996. The impact this fact had on Christian consciousness – along with the exceptional Testament of the Prior, Fr. De Chergé, which was considered to be the unequivocal expression of its meaning – was very profound. Very many people ranging from Pope John Paul II to Christian communities throughout the world, but also the general public who chose to see the film Des homes et des dieux (‘Of Gods and Men’), admired and respected the gesture of freely remaining in the monastery to the point of accepting the consequence of a violent death. The documentation on the subject is vast.[13]






The Effects of Christian Martyrdom 



Has such choice also had some effect on the consciousness and life of Muslim believers? Were it to be so, one might perhaps find an example to support the kairos thesis I have presented. The effects of freely handing oneself over to death, as a gesture of friendship towards our Muslim brother believers, in order to defeat the wretched nexus between violence and religion, would therefore go beyond the visible confines of the Christian confession of faith and would contribute – in accordance with times and rhythms known only to Divine Providence – to the definitive defeat of violence in God’s name. For a first evaluation, we can refer to what Mons. Teissier, the then Archbishop of Algiers, gathered together into a volume of his.[14]



The testimonies he presents teach us two things, above all. In the first place, the sincere horror felt by persons of the Muslim faith in the face of crimes committed against monks, nuns and simple Christians who enjoyed excellent relations with their Muslim neighbours and who were killed in the name of a politico-religious ideology. In the second place, and this is a reflection more directly linked to our study, the mature awareness that ‘today, the religious traditions in general – and Christianity and Islam in particular – ought to be more committed to fostering peace.



For the majority of sincere believers, it has become unacceptable that God may be invoked in order to justify a war or an act of aggression against another group of humans’. It does not seem mistaken to me to consider this opinion a fine example of the fruit that the testimony of faith and love offered by these Christians in Algeria has borne, fostering a clearer and deeper consciousness of the need to definitively take our leave of violence in God’s name.



It is superfluous to note that I lay no claim to establishing an unequivocal causal link between the killing of Christians and the evolution of a shared mentality. Only God can say with every certainty what the ultimate disposition of human hearts is and how the various spiritual and religious components in each concrete case are interwoven. It does not seem rash to suggest, however, that the idea of a kairos that favours the definitive separation of religion from violence – quite in keeping with the gospel message – may also mature in other religious traditions. Examples of Muslim groups or individuals who – sometimes together with Christians – publicly denounce the acts of violence suffered by Christians as unacceptable, even when committed ‘in the name of God’, are not lacking.[15]






A Possible Theoretical Foundation



In the perspective of Christian reflection, it is possible, closer to the source, to offer a philosophico-theological foundation that may explain this (real or potential) influence of the Risen Christ’s Spirit beyond the visible confines of Christian experience. The topic is a classic and the bibliography on the various known models (already present in the writings of the Church Fathers and medieval theology and continuing right up to the present day) is very vast.[16] It will be sufficient for our purposes to remember extremely briefly some pages in which Hans Urs von Balthasar, in an accurate exposition of what he calls faith’s ‘subjective evidence’[17] examines the ways in which God bears witness to men.



Since the human spirit opens to the light of being through philosophical and religious engagement, and since, also, ‘God has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory’ (2 Cor 4:6), one classically speaks of a lumen fidei i.e. of an interior illumination through grace by virtue of which man may recognise the objective evidence of the Christological figure. The Swiss theologian wonders whether there may not be an ontological and cognitive elevation and illumination of the human philosophical and religious a-priori in the revealed light of God.



In a nutshell, Balthasar’s thesis is that the light of revelation reaches – or can reach – everyone, not just Christians, insofar as men are freely placed by God in an intimate relationship with the light of the revelation, and thus very many aspects of that philosophical and religious a priori in the extra-Christian context must, in fact, be influenced by grace. And the creations of extra-Christian religions, philosophies and arts could contain aspects testifying more or less clearly an obedience to the God Who reveals Himself.



This reasoning about the divine action within must always be linked to what Balthasar himself calls ‘God’s testimony in history’ when he concerns himself with the visible, historical features of Christian form; that of Christ as analogatum princeps and that of Christians through their participation. It will only be the right combination of divine action in hearts and its implementation in history that will make a believing response to the God Who reveals Himself[18] possible.



On the basis of these arguments, which are valid for the whole of Christian revelation, it seems permissible to consider that a possible maturing in the form of the revelation’s transmission (such as the kairos of a leave-taking of religious violence, perhaps) may similarly illumine the world’s thinking and religious practices regarding this crucial aspect of personal and social life; to the point of having political consequences. Thus nothing prohibits the document’s thesis being accepted by Christians de iure, whilst they wait for its real de facto testing in the thinking, rites and public side-taking of the various religions. A process that has, perhaps, already begun, hidden beneath the outward guise of a topicality that is particularly tragic today.



[This article is published in Oasis n. 20. Click here to buy a copy of this issue of Oasis and here to subscribe to the journal]








[1] I intend to reason here from the Christian faith perspective. Furthermore, I am not claiming to document directly any confirmation that my theses may have in the concrete situations in countries with an Islamic majority. I will, rather, refer to what the people with the relevant competence describe whilst living within those situations. In other words, what I offer is a “reasoned testimony” proper to a Christian theologian, starting from the documents of reference for the Catholic community and aided by the philosophico-theological thought of some of the great exponents in these fields.



[2] The text of the document, as well as commentaries by Serge-Thomas Bonino, Pierangelo Sequeri, Gilles Eméry and Javier Prades (which I will use extensively in this article), may be found on the International Theological Commission’s site at



[3] A detailed reflection on the relationship between reason, religion and peace may be found in the article by J. Ratzinger, L’Occidente, l’Islam e i fondamenti della pace, «Vita e Pensiero» 5 (September-October 2004), pp. 21-30.



[4] Parerga et paralipomena (1851), quoted in Serge-Thomas Bonino, L’eresia della violenza «in nome di Dio», «L’Osservatore Romano», 17 January 2014, 1.



[5] See Pierangelo Sequeri, Monoteismo: teologia biblica e semplificazioni culturali, in «L’Osservatore Romano», 28 January 2014.



[6] See Bonino, L’eresia della violenza “in nome di Dio”.



[7] Ibid.



[8]See Gilles Eméry, Il Figlio incarnato e il significato dell’unità divina, «L’Osservatore Romano», 17 January 2014.



[9] See Sequeri, Monoteismo: teologia biblica e semplificazioni culturali.



[10] Of the authors (almost all of them Christian) who, in various ways, emphasise the importance of ‘Europe’s Christian roots’, see: Rémi Brague, Europe, la voie romaine (Editions de La Coupoule, Paris, 1992); Julián Marías, La perspectiva Cristiana (Alianza, Madrid, 1999); María Zambrano, La agonía de Europa (Trotta, Madrid, 2000); Peter Antes (Ed.), Christentum und europäische Kultur. Eine Geschichte und ihre Gegenwart (Herder, Freiburg-Basel-Vienna, 2002); Marta Sordi, Alle radici dell’occidente. Marietti (Genoa-Milan, 2002); Jospeh H.H. Weiler, Un’Europa cristiana. Un saggio esplorativo (BUR, Milan, 2003); Giovanni Reale, Radici culturali e spirituali dell’Europa. Per una rinascita dell’“uomo europeo” (Raffaello Cortina, Milan, 2003); Luis Suárez, Cristianismo y europeidad. Una reflexión histórica ante el tercer milenio (Eunsa, Pamplona, 2003); Dalmacio Negro, Lo que Europa debe al cristianismo (Unión Editorial, Madrid, 2004); Christopher Dawson, The Making of Europe. An Introduction to the History of European Union (Sheed and Ward, London, 1932). Preferring to give pride of place to the Greek and Jewish contributions to Europe’s past and future, George Steiner, The Idea of Europe (Nexus Library, 2004), is much more critical of Christianity.



[11] Reale, Radici culturali e spirituali dell’Europa, 97-118; Julián Marías, Persona (Alianza, Madrid, 1996) and Robert Spaemann, Personen (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1996).



[12] See Axel Von Campenhausen, Christentum und Recht in Antes, Christentum und europäische Kultur, 96-115; Brague, Europe, 110-118; Negro, Lo que Europa debe al cristianismo, 316, and Angelo Scola, Non dimentichiamoci di Dio (Rizzoli, Milan, 2013).



[13] For a well thought-out selection from the literature on the seven martyr monks from Tibhirine and the meaning of their gesture, see



[14] Henri Teissier, Chrétiens en Algérie, un partage d’espérance (Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 2002). The reader is also referred to a ‘Muslim reading’ of Fr. de Chergé’s Testament, which has a more apologetic tone:



[15] The site has regular coverage on gestures denouncing the violence suffered by Christians. Different groups of Muslim believers are publicly taking sides in this sense, which fact seems to be steering us in the direction of the trend hoped for in the ITC’s document.



[16] As regards the reflection of the Church’s Magisterium and the theologians on the relationship between Christianity, the other religions, peace and religious violence, the reader is referred to the abundance of material gathered in Karl Becker and Ilaria Morali (Eds), Catholic Engagement with World Religions (Orbis, New York, 2010).



[17] See Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord I. Seeing the Form (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1982).



[18] See Von Balthasar, Gloria I, 158 et seq.

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