If you ever had any doubts about Obama’s anti-Christian bias, this report by Nina Shea will lay them to rest [my emphasis in any quoted material below — D]:
Why is the United States barring a persecuted Iraqi Catholic nun — an internationally respected and leading representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been killed and deported by ISIS — from coming to Washington to testify about this catastrophe?
Earlier this week, we learned that every member of an Iraqi delegation of minority groups, including representatives of the Yazidi and Turkmen Shia religious communities, has been granted visas to come for official meetings in Washington — save one.
The single delegate whose visitor visa was denied happens to be the group’s only Christian from Iraq.
Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena was informed on Tuesday by the U.S. consulate in Erbil that her non-immigrant-visa application has been rejected.
Ms. Shea talked to Sister Diana on the phone and discovered that a consular officer named Christopher Patch gave this as the reason for her rejection: our Muddled East State desk (or their superiors) had decided she was an “Internally Displaced Person” and therefore a visit from Sister Diana would be a risky business for us because she’d claim refugee status once she got here. Sure she would, and would likely try to join the thousands of Christians swarming in??
Do you know what an IDP is? I didn’t either, even though our country bears some responsibility for “displacing” a historically high number of people in MENA, and particularly in Iraq.
Ms. Shea interprets this arrogant decision for us:
Essentially, the State Department was calling her a deceiver. The State Department officials made the determination that the Catholic nun could be falsely asserting that she intends to visit Washington when secretly she could be intending to stay. That would constitute illegal immigration, and that, of course, is strictly forbidden. Once here, she could also be at risk for claiming political asylum, and the U.S. seems determined to deny ISIS’s Christian victims that status.
Don’t you like the straight face Ms. Shea keeps whilst discussing illegal immigration? What she doesn’t say, but I will speculate, is that this decision to keep out the only Christian in the visiting group was intended to be the arrogant insult it is. And I doubt the decision was reached at Mr. Patch’s pay grade; he was simply the messenger. [/spec]
Ms. Shea continues [I will use bullet points to emphasize the information she gathered]:
In reality, Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs.
In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit:
- Her prioress, Sister Maria Hana, provided proof of Sister Diana’s current employment contract for a teaching position, starting last February and continuing through the 2015-16 academic year. [NOTE: Sister Diana is a Dominican nun. The order she chose to join is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena. More on this later -D]
- an invitation from the Institute for Global Engagement
- another invitation from The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.
- a letter of endorsement from Congressional Representative Anna Eshoo. (D., Calif).
So who is Rep. Anna Eshoo? Her wiki shows that she is the only person in Congress of Assyrian descent and one of only two Armenian Congresspeople; Eshoo is a Chaldean Catholic.
She’s served in Congress for over twenty years and her district covers part of Silicon Valley. Her record should be a “safe” one for this administration, given that she first endorsed Senator Obama’s run for the presidency in 2008 and has been a very good Democrat, punching nearly all the Democrat tickets on gays, etc. But she has deep religious and cultural roots that go beyond her Democratness:
As one of just two Assyrian members of Congress, Eshoo has worked hard to protect indigenous Assyrian Christians in Iraq from continuing religious persecution and political exclusion. She authored an amendment to H.R. 2601, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, requesting that “special attention should be paid to the welfare of Chaldo-Assyrians and other indigenous Christians in Iraq.”
…a strong supporter of the Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. She also supports closer ties between Armenia and the U.S.
…fought strongly against certain provisions of the Patriot Act, particularly Section 215 (Access to Business Records), which gives federal investigators the right to obtain any tangible business record without obtaining a subpoena.
…also introduced “Kevin’s Law,” which would have given the U.S. Department of Agriculture the power to close down plants that produce contaminated meat.
As an Assyrian and Armenian American, Rep. Eshoo is co-chair and co-founder of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus. She also serves on the Board of Advisors of The Institute on Religion and Public Policy, a freedom of religion organization.
There is more here.
Note this last-mentioned position — that Eshoo is part of the Advisory Board at The Institute on Religion and Public Policy. Her service there would be an anomaly for the usual long-term Democrat, since The Institute is part of First Things, a conservative magazine/think tank. However, it appears that knowledge of religious persecution runs deep in Rep. Eshoo’s DNA.
Ms. Shea’s digging here is commendable. She says further,
Until ISIS stormed into Qaraqosh last August, Sister Diana had a distinguished academic career and had been teaching an intensive course on spiritual direction at St. Ephrem Seminary, as well as English and peacemaking courses. She, along with the town’s 50,000 other, mostly Christian, residents, fled for their lives from ISIS during the second week of August. Since then, the 30-something religious woman has served as a spokesperson for this community, as well as for the over 100,000 other Christians driven into Kurdistan under the ISIS “convert or die” policy. Through this, she has become internationally known as a charismatic and articulate advocate for religious freedom and human rights. Mr. Wolf, who met her in Kurdistan a few months ago, explained, “We had hoped to facilitate her trip to the States so that she could speak with great candor, as is her custom, to policymakers. Perhaps just as significantly, we viewed her as a critical voice to awaken the church in the West to the suffering of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.”
Check out the sidebar on Shea’s page. She has been reporting on Christian persecution for a while now.
Some background on The Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena may help in considering the context from her point of view. The page at that link is a template for the “congregation” (a Catholic term denoting a particular order of priests or nuns) she chose. Note that it is a hybrid; the first focus is on Dominic (the patron saint of astronomers) and those who enter the Dominicans usually have a vocation, a calling, to teaching or preaching.
Dominic was born in Spain, but he alighted in Toulouse when he began his small congregation:
In 1215, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in a house given by Peter Seila, a rich resident of Toulouse. Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization to address the spiritual needs of the growing cities of the era, one that would combine dedication and systematic education, with more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy [“secular clergy” are diocesan priests who serve in individual parishes]. He subjected himself and his companions to the monastic rules of prayer and penance; and meanwhile bishop Foulques gave them written authority to preach throughout the territory of Toulouse.
Obtaining episcopal permission isn’t easy. Any given bishop and his bureaucracy has to see a mission within its boundaries as non-threatening to the establishment. So that was Dominic’s beginning — six men in Toulouse. By the time he died, the Dominicans had spread through southern Europe. [Yes, I know the Dominicans were later to be mired in the Inquisition, but their founder wasn’t one of those for by then he’d been dead and canonized for some time. That’s an argument for another day.]
My point here is that Sister Diana, an Iraqi woman in a land of fierce patriarchs, is a well-known Dominican teacher and Christian preacher. To quote Ms. Shea again, Diana “has become internationally known as a charismatic and articulate advocate for religious freedom and human rights.”. Could the State Department be at all fearful that this woman might possibly have some effect on their anti-Christian agenda?
Then there is the other half of the hybrid order to which Diana belongs: Saint Catherine of Siena, also a European — an Italian. Any Catholic woman who has spent time exploring beyond her “childhood’s lost faith” knows Catherine of Siena. She is the only woman ever made a Doctor of the Church (though it wasn’t made official until the 20th century). Along with Francis of Assisi, she shares the title of patron saint of Italy:
[Catherine] was a tertiary of the Dominican Order and a Scholastic philosopher [“Scholastic” = Thomas Aquinas] and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France and to establish peace among the Italian city-states.
You have only to read her biography to know she was, to put it kindly, a great trial to her parents. Who wants a girl-child who so publicly goes against the zeitgeist of the neighborhood? In the 13th century, Catherine tacked against it all the time. The life she led was singular in its devotion to cleaning up political life; in her positions as emissary she didn’t always win on points but she often softened up the opposition sufficiently so that what she’d been sent to accomplish won the day eventually.
From across the centuries her strong personality endures. One can see why Italian women admired her spunk. It was so…so very Italian.
Who knew that Pope John Paul II named a group of six as the patron saints of Europe? She stands alongside Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Bridget of Sweden and Edith Stein. That’s quite a list, and all worth studying. The women in that group exhibit a strong spirit, but Catherine is more equal than the others. Swedes don’t appear to think much of “crazy Bridget” but that’s just the Northern temperament for you: Swedish culture insists that one not stand out of the crowd or ever be less than “nice”.
This list of Europe’s patron saints spans the continent and beyond. It begins in the 5th century in Eastern Europe and ends with a 20th-century Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz in 1942. Each of them was the best of the best of her time. All devoted their lives to serving others.
And so we circle back to Sister Diana, a teacher and theologian in her own right. Note that as a Chaldean Catholic she still chose an essentially Western Roman Catholic order. She probably knows more Western history and understands Western culture better than the time-servers at the State Department.
Secretary of State John Kerry is from Massachusetts; the Catholic Church is still very strong there. Massachusetts’ Catholicism is a paradigm for multi-cultural tensions and an ongoing detente amongst the various factions — the Irish may predominate but they don’t arbitrarily rule the Italians, Portuguese, or the Greek Orthodox contingents. Let’s hope that enough episcopal weight can be brought to bear on Kerry to rule against his Muddled East “desk”. Or did this cowardly decision to ban Sister Diana go higher even than Kerry?
Countless mistakes have been made in MENA. We have helped bring formerly sovereign states to ruin and chaos. Sister Diana has survived some of those gross errors, fleeing to Kurdistan with many other Iraqi Christians seeking to escape decapitation by ISIS. In the midst of chaos life still goes on; one of those lives is Diana’s, busy as she is with teaching and preaching. She has a job and lives in community with her own congregation. To label her a “risk” because she seeks to spend a week here talking to NGOs and politicians is, at best, arrogant chauvinism. Her place is with the people whose communities were destroyed by our inchoate “foreign policy”.
Perhaps the State Department and the Obama administration that rules over it are both all-too-keenly aware of the power of a “charismatic” preacher coming here, even if it’s just for a week?
President Obama is afraid of a nun speaking to Congress?? Imagine that.