All Saints Day. The Catholic world honours today those who died as martyrs and were canonized. These people died because they believed in the God revealed through Jesus. They were persecuted by Roman emperors, Muslim invaders, Protestant opponents and modern-day tyrants. How valuable a cause must it be to be ready to die for it? Isn’t it strange that some would rather die for their country in a military conflict than stand up for a domestic policy cause like the defense of human rights?
I don’t have much consideration for Catholic saints. They represent a church that has waged war against other Christians, against Muslims, against the inhabitants of the New World. It has burned women as witches and tortured scientists whose theories did not fit the Vatican’s dogma. It has tolerated sexual abuse of children and it has blessed Nazi soldiers. Its present day ideas on homosexuality and contraception show me that this church is completely out of sync with reality.
No, I don’t have much consideration for Catholic saints. I prefer to stand in awe before modern-day heroes. Like Denis Mukwege, who was recently awarded the Peace Nobel Price, and Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the same price in 2014. Juan Pablo Orrego, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 1998. And the many unnamed workers in the humanitarian field that I have met in my previous life, clearing mines in Bosnia, teaching children in Afghanistan, drilling wells in Africa.
I will not pray for them, for I do not pray anymore. But I will observe a minute of silence to honour their work, the risks they take every day. Minimal music for recollection comes to my mind. Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Messe, written in 1990, revised in 2002. It has been recorded by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir led by Tonu Kaljuste.
© Charles Thibo