THE Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the “noble aim” of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity.
The Crusades are seen by many Muslims as acts of violence that have underpinned Western aggression towards the Arab world ever since. Followers of Osama bin Laden claim to be taking part in a latter-day “jihad against the Jews and Crusaders”.
The late Pope John Paul II sought to achieve Muslim- Christian reconciliation by asking “pardon” for the Crusades during the 2000 Millennium celebrations. But John Paul’s apologies for the past “errors of the Church” “” including the Inquisition and anti-Semitism “” irritated some Vatican conservatives. According to Vatican insiders, the dissenters included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict reached out to Muslims and Jews after his election and called for dialogue. However, the Pope, who is due to visit Turkey in November, has in the past suggested that Turkey”s Muslim culture is at variance with Europe’s Christian roots.
At the conference, held at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Roberto De Mattei, an Italian historian, recalled that the Crusades were “a response to the Muslim invasion of Christian lands and the Muslim devastation of the Holy Places“…
UPDATE: Imagine my surprise when I happened to see Interested’s comment below and looked back at the original article to discover that I myself was at the Conference!
The American writer Robert Spencer, author of A Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, told the conference that the mistaken view had taken hold in the West as well as the Arab world that the Crusades were “an unprovoked attack by Europe on the Islamic world”. In reality, however, Christians had been persecuted after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.
Apparently this Conference was so secret that even the speakers didn’t know they were there. Or perhaps it all happened in a dream — a winged white horse carried me to Rome, where I defended the Crusades and was back in time to update Jihad Watch before the morning commute. Anyway, while I do hope this means they’re reading the book in Rome, the Times has it wrong: I was not in fact there.