Mr Julio Loredo, journalist and author, president of the Italian association, Tradizione Famiglia Proprietà, and leading expert on Liberation Theology, was one block away from Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels when a terrorist bomb exploded there on Tuesday. Here are his report and reflections on the attack:
When I saw the ambulances and police cars rushing in one direction with sirens wailing, while masses of people fled in panic in the opposite direction, I realised that something was wrong. I was less than 100 metres from Maelbeek Metro station in Brussels when the terrorist bomb exploded, taking the lives of 22 people, and leaving 106 injured. The city was already in turmoil because of the earlier explosions at Zaventem airport, which left 14 dead and 81 wounded.
Within minutes the area was cordoned off and SWAT units, in full battle dress, had taken control of the streets in the European district, home of the European institutions, and also of the TFP office. Not even my press card could get me through the security barrier, beyond which gunshots could be heard. At my request for information, an official in charge said, shaking with anger: “C’est la guerre, monsieur, c’est la guerre!” In fact the national state of alert was raised to level 4 – that is just one level below a declaration of war.
The islamic terrorists wanted to strike at the heart of the European Union, possibly in retaliation for the security operation that led to the killing of one terrorist and the capture of another who had taken part in the attacks in Paris last November.
More than at the airport and the metro station, these bombs have exploded in the hearts and in the souls of Europeans, raising a number of issues which revolve around a single central question: “How did we get to this point?” How is it possible that a European country, which was already in a state of maximum alert, finds itself incapable of protecting its own citizens?
The image of Federica Mogherini comes to mind – the High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, crying during the press conference in which she gave an account of the attacks. The tears of a lady in the face of such immense human tragedy are understandable. But it is disconcerting that the Foreign Minister of Europe didn’t indicate any reaction other than a generic “we remain united.”
The reaction of Pope Francis is also upsetting – he limited himself to generically condemning “the blind violence,” even though any citizen on the streets of Brussels could see perfectly clearly that it was a case of an islamic attack against a European and Christian country. In other words, it was perfectly well targeted.
The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls was more realistic: “We are at war. For several months Europe has been subjected to real acts of war. DAESH declared war on us, and we have to be able to respond.”
Perhaps it is not without significance that these attacks happened during Holy Week – that is the week in which we commemorate the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, and her temporal expression, Christian civilisation, are affected by evil people who want their destruction, just as one time the Jewish mob clamoured for His death. Hearing the story of the Passion told by St. Remigius, the Frankish warriors under the command of Clovis, only recently converted to Christianity, beat their swords on their shields shouting: “If we had been there this would not have happened.” It was a cry of indignation, a fruit of the love of God, which heralded the epic of medieval France: Gesta Dei per francos.
And it is exactly this holy indignation that is lacking in both spiritual and temporal European leaders today. If the indignation of the Franks heralded their epic future, the spirit of dialogue and surrender of the European leadership of today foreshadows every kind of compromise and failure. Now, if one side in a war wants to fight while the other side only wants dialogue, the eventual outcome is obvious.
We ask Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering on the Cross, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Sorrows, that He make fall from our eyes, the scales of moral and spiritual blindness, and send down from Heaven those graces that once led to the reconquest of the Holy Sepulchre.
This is a very up-to-date meditation for this Holy Week.