Polemics & Exchanges

Of Martyrs and Men

George McCartney (“The First and Final Command,” In the Dark, June) seems to believe that the Trappists of Tibhirine died as Christian martyrs.  I do not.  If the film he reviewed, Of Gods and Men, portrays them accurately, they prayed in the local mosque regularly; in other words, they repeatedly and publicly worshiped a false god.  The Church has always and everywhere condemned this action as the commission of apostasy.  Apostates cannot be martyrs (witnesses) for a Faith they reject.

The actual (not cinematic) Dom Christian de Chergé’s testament, written shortly before his disappearance, contains these words: “My death, obviously, will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naive or idealistic: ‘Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!’  But these must know that my insistent curiosity will then be set free.  This is what I shall be able to do, if God wills: Immerse my gaze in that of the Father, to contemplate with Him His children of Islam as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and to refashion the likeness, playing with the differences.”

These are not the words of a Christian martyr, but of a deluded man who believes...

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