No surprise: Islam was at fault for the Crusades, and a bunch of other very bad stuff.

After the end of the Latin Roman Empire, the Mediterranean remained a Christian lake, open to commercial and cultural exchange between the new kingdoms in the West and the Greek Roman Christian Empire.  It was Islam, not the “barbarian invaders,” which broke the unity of the Christian world, thereby interrupting commercial and cultural exchange between the Christian East and the Christian West, propitiating the rise of the Carolingian “Roman” Empire, turning the Mediterranean into a Muslim lake, and therefore moving the cultural axis of the Christian West from the Mediterranean to the North: “the cause of the break with the tradition of antiquity was the rapid and unexpected advance of Islam.”

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Myth #1 about the Crusades

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. 

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The Crusades: A direct response to Muslim aggression and conquest.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity — and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion — has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt — once the most heavily Christian areas in the world — quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

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This Week’s Ask Alice: History’s Biggest, Catholic Church Scandals.



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Brian Asks: With the recent Philadelphia sex scandal surfacing, i was trying to rationalize the severity of this scandal in the history of the church. Naturally its an ugly situation here and in other parts of the world. What are the top 5 biggest scandals in the history of the Catholic Church?

Alice Answers: Living in an era when scandals rock our Church is no concert for faithful Catholics. To put the current scandal in perspective, I spoke with two priests.

My beloved uncle, Fr. Sergius Wroblewski, O.F.M., is an author, and he also teaches Scripture classes at Lourdes Friary, in Cedar Lake, Indiana. Here is his answer:

“That is a tough question, because it calls for scouring history for scandals. I came up with two cases and both have to do with the Reformation. One is about the Capuchin, Bernardine Ochino who became a Lutheran and caused a great scandal that almost brought down the whole Capuchin Order. The other one is about Pope Leo X who was Pope from 1513 to 1521 and whose scandalous life was a factor in moving Luther to break with the Church. He was a de Medici pope. Cardinal Petrucci wanted to kill him. Four cardinals were involved. They did not succeed because a letter describing the plot was intercepted. So Petrucci was strangled at the Castel Gandolfo.

Leo was the Pope who initiated the construction of the great Vatican Basilica. He needed lots of money so he issued indulgences: the greatness of the indulgence was in proportion to the amount of money given. This speculation in indulgences involved Bankers. But let me give you a description of what was going on in the Vatican gardens.

There was a continual celebration that was a mixture of paganism and Christianity with masked balls, performances of ancient mythology, Roman tales acted against magnificent scenery and, on the other hand, processions and splendid church feasts with performances in the Colosseum, classic orations in the Capitol, and more feasts and speeches on the anniversary of the founding of Rome. There were daily parades of cardinals, ceremonies for the arrival of ambassadors and princes with groups so large they looked like armies. Retinues, too, of the pope where he went off to hunt at Magliana, at Palo, at Viterbo, with the falcons at his wrist, with packs of dogs, heavy baggage, flocks of servants, the suites of the cardinals and of foreign preachers, the happy crowd of the poets of Rome and a mob of barons and princes, all in such a clamor as to seem a company of Bacchantes.

The vicar of Christ took part in the shows and appeared to enjoy the stupidities of the court buffoons that his valet Serrafica, had the job of bringing to Court. Among these was a certain Querno who dressed like Venus sang poems and drank a lot. There was also Mariano Fetti, Apostolic Sealer in the Chancery, better known as the court clown. A formidable glutton and drinker, he amused the pope with his buffoonery inviting him to enjoy life, saying, ‘Let’s live it up, Holy Father, for everything is a joke.’

There is no doubt that lasciviousness and moral corruption reached the highest levels with Leo X. That was a scandal that invited a (very) strong reaction, The Protestant Reformation.”

Fr. John Zemelko, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Valparaiso, Indiana compiled his list of the top five scandals of the Catholic Church:

1) Schisms: East and West (the Reformation)

2) Lapsi Crisis. This schism occurred when an African deacon, Felicissimus, opposed St. Cyprian, who enforced an extremely rigorous policy for Christians who apostatized (lapsi) during the Decian persecution in 250 A.D.

3) The Inquisition

4) The Crusades

5) Current clergy sex scandal

Although we live in troubled times, it is reassuring to remember Jesus’ promise to all faithful Catholics when appointing Peter as His earthly successor.

“(Peter) you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

No priest, bishop, heretic, dictator, or army can destroy the Catholic Church, which was founded in 33 A.D. by Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: I often say that if the Catholic Church was a publicly traded company, I would have sold all my stock in it, many, many years ago. Instead, I continue to “hold” … based solely on the “rock solid” security that God alone is able to provide.

The fact that the Catholic Church has always been able to “take a punch” … ever since Jesus Christ walked the earth … despite whatever novel corruptions and persecutions those outside … or inside … of the Church … might choose to unleash against it … is just more proof of its divine origin … and of God’s loving and continuing providence.

But … what else would a person expect of the only Church that Jesus Christ ever founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed … for the purpose of our salvation?

Praise God!

The Crusades were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt – once the most heavily Christian areas in the world – quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

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Islam needs to emerge from its’ self-imposed “dark ages” and join the world community.


The days of Muslim Conquest
and the Crusades are behind us.

by Doug Lawrence

Islam claims to be a religion of peace, but so long as Islam continues to harbor terrorists and murderers within its’ ranks, and so long as Islam appears to officially support various types of revenge and brutal discrimination, under the false guise of Sharia and Jihad, few non-Muslims are ever likely to take Islam seriously, as a true world religion … let alone, a religion of peace.

Muslim Sharia Law is an only slightly modified version of the old Mosaic Law of the Jews. The Law actually worked pretty well in the harsh living environment of nomadic desert dwellers … and it should have … since it was originally given to the Israelites by God (Allah) for that express purpose. But when impressed on modern-day urban citizenry by certain fundamentalist Imams, Sharia can easily take on the look and feel of brute totalitarianism.

All of current-day Islam’s inherent violence and its’ serious denials/abuses of personal freedom make Islam look very unappealing and even frightening to the common man. And that should not come as a surprise, to anyone.

I’m betting that the promoters of true Islam can make a logical case for many/most of their fundamental beliefs and practices, but there’s no way they can ever do the same for violent Jihad and brutal, religious persecution and discrimination … simply because that type of behavior is essentially an unjust, corrupt aberration … and it was never a part of original, authentic Islam.

The days of the Crusades are behind us. The world (except apparently, for certain Muslims, and a few others) has moved on. Now, it’s high time for the true leaders of the Islamic world to get together, universally reject violence and terrorism, disown and shun those who can’t or won’t change their Medieval ways, and finally, join the modern family of nations, in peace.

Why Is Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral In Al Qaeda’s Crosshairs?


While one doesn’t expect radical Islam to be familiar with Marian Apparitions or Catholic eschatology, it does appear that elements of radical Islam takes this all very seriously. Now some may say doesn’t Islam give great reverence to the Blessed Mother? Yes this is true. However, we have to look at the theology of the radical. In addition to being an Apostate faith, Christianity was in their eyes a failed religion. The rhetoric of Al Qaeda increasingly reflected a radicalized Muslim world. While the academics loved to reminisce about Islam’s cerebral side, the radicalized Islamic world quoted form the more militant parts of the Koran. They loved to remind the unbelievers of how Islam spread the faith with the sword farther in one century than Christianity had with kindness and love for seven centuries.

Dr Yossef Bodansky provides us with an interesting glimpse into this mindset. Dr Bodansky refers to a January 7, 1994 speech given by former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The former Iranian president stated that Christ’s message had failed, because Jesus had been incapable of bringing man to God, so God had to send Muhammad to get the job done. In other words, the Islamic Conquest of the Middle East, North African and southern Europe was necessary, only because Christianity had failed.

This is an interesting statement because although Rafsanjnai is a Shiite and Al Qaeda is Sunni, the message is the same; Christianity failed and conquest was needed to bring man to God. However, even in their defense of the Islamic Conquest, these two radical wings of Islam are forced to admit that Christianity was alive and well in the Middle East and North Africa centuries before the arrival of Islam. One of the familiar themes on any Al Qaeda tape is the plea to remove the infidel from Islamic lands.

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Polish King John Sobieski and the first 9/11