If St. Valentine Could Write Pope Francis A Letter
St. Valentine's Identity
Much has been shared about the identities of St. Valentine. The Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church and Eastern Orthodox Church are providers of ancient Christian history. Midst the splitting of the Sees and diverse church ancestry, there is a small unanimous depiction.
Valentine was a name associated with more than one person, yet all were martyred. The prominent story I have followed is attributed to a Saint Valentinus the Presbyter (269). He is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on July 6th. However, the general population will celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th, when the Catholic and Anglican Church also observe the event.
The attribution of love letters is a stretch, possibly erroneous, however it has been cemented in pop-culture to be the tradition for this holiday.
The Story of Valentinus and the Family of Four
Valentinus was imprisoned by the Emperor Claudius II for his Christian affiliation. Unique to Valentinus' story, is the family of four that came to Rome in order to advocate for Christian prisoners. Marius, Martha, Audifax and Habakkuk could be likened unto lobbyists, Humans Rights Watch or Amnesty International. They intended to gain policy change and mercy on behalf of the prisoners captive and tortured.
Valentinus and the family of four met similar fates. Although they were able to advance some issues before the populous, they were executed; the men beheaded and Martha was drowned.
These martyrs are remembered. Their efforts and death inspired change. The same cannot be said for the many nameless being killed in Darfur (genocide?), the children crucified by ISIS (per UN data), or the girls kidnapped and raped by Boko Haram. These victims are easily forgotten, their attempted rescues deterred and the Christian ministries have not sent any clergy, bishops, etc. that might bring change via martyrdom.
Pope Francis the Jesuit
Pope Francis: The First Pope from the Jesuit Order
Pope Francis has many firsts to his year in office and included in his efforts is the increased attention towards the sexual misconduct of church leadership. Pope Francis' background as a Jesuit (The Society of Jesus) points to an education in social justice. The special group was originally founded by Ignatius of Loyola who's former profession was that of a soldier. In his conversion to a life of a hermit and priest, he drew inspiration from the examples of St. Francis of Assisi due to the bravery in his missions. For example, Saint Francis tried to convert the Sultan of Egypt in 1219 to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades.
The coloration that I see here is that Pope Francis could draw inspiration from this lineage; to make attempts to speak with leaders of war and terrorism. I would observe this to be dangerous for the Pope and that it would put his leadership role in jeopardy. A better alternative would be to ask the bishops/priests that were guilty of child molestation to go on peace missions to ISIS, Darfur and the Boko Haram.
The Conflicts in Darfur are Reminiscent of Ancient Persecutions
In a recent update published by Human Rights Watch "Sudan: Conflicts, Abuses Intensify," the conflict in Darfur continues to be under their focus. Additional coverage comes from a popular and favorite journalist of mine, Eric Reeves. Otherwise, it has become difficult to keep this issue in the press and on our nightly televised news. So many other incidents and interests take its place.
The attempts to bring a stop to this conflict have been defeated time and time again. Those that could do something have grown tired and lost interest. Many victims of torture, rape, and murder are targeted due to their cultural (including religion) differences. These are horrible issues of death and destruction towards humanity that have gone on far too long.
Over 2 million have been displaced and a 1/2 million have died in Darfur, Sudan since the violence received United Nations coverage in 2008. Christians and Animists are two of the main religious minorities killed by the Janjawee / Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of North Sudan. Due to the violent resistance aimed towards foreign aid and the unwilling or unskilled UN/foreign relief, e.g., the inability to return force with force; RSF continue with their would-be genocide.
In the 20th-21st centuries, one draws a blank if asked to name a martyr. They certainly would not list anyone associated with Pope Francis or the Orthodox Church. I can list prominent figures that were imprisoned (Gandhi, Nelson Mandela) and civil rights leaders assassinated (Martin Luther King, Jr.), but again, they are not Christian clergy attempting to stop our present day horrors.
Where are the Martyrs?
The most recent martyr, again not from the Christian church pillars (Catholic and Orthodox), is Moath al-Kasasbeh of Jordan. His death has been elevated by the people, government officials and royalty: "Moath, the martyr of justice."
Moath al-Kasasbeh was a pilot in the Jordan Air Force, flying missions over ISIS strongholds per U.S. Coalition operations. His jet was shot down and he was taken captive. ISIS executed him and published the video of him being burned alive in a cage.
Jordan is unique in its response; the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, and France have also had nationals executed by ISIS, yet these nations do not recognized them as martyrs. With Jordan's memorial for the departed, they have sent additional personnel into the conflict and have inspired others, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has recently agreed to rejoin the fight, in part to honor al-Kasasbeh, and has sent their jet fighters to Jordan.
Do you think that martyrdom could help defuse conflicts in Darfur?
© 2015 t aaron brown