the eve of the Pope’s visit to the U.S.,
journalist Raymond Arroyo has taken President Bush to task for his policy
toward the plight of Christians in Iraq. Arroyo, anchor of the show,
“The World Over,” has aggressively questioned Bush about some of the issues we
raised in a recent
column. The entire interview will air at 8 p.m. Friday, April
11, on EWTN Global
Catholic Network. Here are excerpts from his tough interview with the President:
Q―I think his [the Pope’s] perspective is going to be very
different from what we’re reading in the newspapers this week. I think what he’ll
primarily talk about, and if my sources at the Vatican can be believed, he will
probably talk about the 40 bombed churches―
Q―40 percent of the refugees being Christian―
Q―he’s very concerned about that Christian minority in Iraq.
Q―When he spoke to you in 2007 he raised this. What is the administration
prepared to do for this fledgling remnant of Christianity―an ancient community
PRESIDENT: Well, absolutely. You
know, it’s something we have been doing all along, is urging the government to
understand that minority rights are a vital part of any democratic society. And
by the way, my concern isn’t just for minority rights in Iraq; it’s for minority rights throughout the Middle East. And I have dealt with the Holy Father about―with
not only the issue of Iraq,
but also the issue of Catholics in―and Christians in the Holy
Land. I can remember very well, early in my presidency, I think it
was Cardinal Egan or maybe Cardinal McCarrick came to see me about the mosque
encroaching on the Catholic―the great Catholic Church, and would I use my
influence with the Israelis to convince them to be mindful of the need for
minority rights? And I said, absolutely. In my visit to the Holy
Land, this recent time, there’s a lot of concern about the kind
of, the―I guess, non-acceptance. I met Sisters that were in the Galilean area
that were just serving mankind so beautifully, and yet their leadership was
concerned about minority rights. So my view is like―Iraq is important, but I’ve
used our influence all throughout the region. And I’ve used our influence all throughout
the world to promote rights for all religious minorities, including China.
Q―We saw that Archbishop Raho, he was murdered in Iraq.
This past weekend―
PRESIDENT: Yes, yes.
Q―an Orthodox priest slain on the doorstep of his home. Is the
administration―do you believe that this is religiously motivated violence?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do. I believe they’re―I believe what they’re trying
to do is trying to send messages―“they” being the killers―trying to send
messages that it’s not worth your time, that you must abandon the efforts of
helping this free society deliver. I don’t think this is government-sponsored.
I think these are a bunch of thugs and killers who have this kind of dark, dim
view of the world, and are willing to kill anybody who’s willing to stand up to
them. And it’s not just these religious figures. There are a lot of innocent
men, women and children who are being killed by them, as well. This is their
techniques, this is their tactics, and it’s the same type of mentality that
caused people to fly airplanes into our buildings to kill 3,000 of our
Q―What can we tangibly do? What can the administration tangibly
plead with the Iraqi government to do to protect this fledgling minority? Is
there anything we can do―
PRESIDENT: Well, one thing we can
do is to keep our troops there long enough to have a civil society emerge, and
go after them, and go after these killers, and bring them to justice so they
quit killing people, including our own troops, because this is a war.
question we posed in our column remains valid: Does Bush want to go down in
history as the U.S. President who launched a war that resulted in the
destruction of the Christian community in Iraq?
need less talk about using “influence” and “urging” the Iraqi government to do
something. We are paying for that government. Our troops are there to prop it
up. This is a Muslim government that has failed to protect the Christians. In
fact, it discriminates against them.
time to order U.S.
troops to protect Christian churches and believers. All it would take is one
call from Bush to General David Petraeus.
that call, Mr. President, before the Pope embarrasses you with more questions
about your failure to prevent this terrible catastrophe.