Monday, August 01, 2016

The Religions of Peace

Speaking of that terror attack on the French Catholic priest (notice how quickly it's disappeared from the news), the leader of the world's largest religion shared his thoughts:

Speaking on the papal plane en route to Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day celebrations, Francis said the world had been in "a piecemeal war" for some time. He said Tuesday's killing of the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 86, in St.-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, was one casualty in this conflict. "The world is at war because it has lost peace," he said. "There is a war of interest, there is a war for money, a war for natural resources, a war to dominate people," he continued. "Some might think it is war of religion. It is not. All religions want peace. Others want war."

And thus does the martyrdom of Rev. Hamel get dissolved by his own Pope into the general array of conflicts that beset mankind - the 'fog of war,' so to speak - and the Reverend's Catholic faith melted into the pre-biotic soup of religious relativism.

I almost can't take any more intellectually decrepit speech farts delivered at 30,000 feet.

Does anyone know what a "war of interest" is?

A "war to dominate people"? Aren't all wars like that?

Who are these "others" that "want war"?

What evidence does he have that "all religions want peace"? And how does a religion want anything? It's a body of doctrine, a set of teachings that may recommend this and condemn that, but as a bunch of words on paper, I doubt that it wants anything.

He's either historically illiterate or Barack Obama's secret pen pal. His words sound just like Loretta Lynch's FBI spokesman in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

To give the common man his due, a citizen of a town close by St.-Etienne-du-Rouvray agrees: ""We must fight the terrorists. These people are crazy -- they justify their actions with religion, but religion has nothing to do with it."

The sickness, apparently, distinguishes not between king and commoner.

I was wondering if the Pope thought that the Wars of Religion had nothing to do with religion. All the historical references I can find seem to think they did. Or that the Crusaders had no legitimate religious purpose, were utterly lacking in piety and true devotion when they journeyed a thousand miles by horse and foot to close with a ruthless enemy in a desert waste because they so much preferred war to peace. They wouldn't rather have stayed home with their families? Throw them under the bus, Pope.

Can a man go to war and still justly serve the truth of his religion? Some Popes thought so:

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? ...Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

It gets better:

Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. [Today, this concern doesn't move us very much.] As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote: "How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? ...Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?..."Crusading," Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an "an act of love" — in this case, the love of one's neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, "You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, 'Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.'"

And then there is October 7th, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which commemorates the victory at Lepanto (without which victory there might not be a Pope with the leisure to flit here and there uttering his senseless banalities. .)

But before Lepanto there was Malta, where the Sultan Soleiman sent 40,000 men against "700 knights and their men-at-arms." And what did 71 year old Jean de la Valette, Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, say to his charges?

A formidable army composed of audacious barbarians is descending on this island. These persons, my brothers, are the enemies of Jesus Christ. Today it is a question of the defense of our Faith. Are the Gospels to be superseded by the Koran? God on this occasion demands of us our lives, already vowed to His service. Happy will be those who first consummate this sacrifice.

I don't know how many Christians died, but three quarters of the Muslim force was destroyed before the remainder limped back to Constantinople. An enraged Soleiman sent "an army of 300,000 men across the plains of Hungary, bound for Vienna," during which campaign he lay siege to the city of Szigetvar. It took a long time:

For nearly a month, wave after wave of Turkish infantry were thrown back from the walls. Soleiman offered Zrinyi rule of all Croatia if he would yield his city, but he answered, "No one shall point his finger on my children in contempt." When the breaches made by the Turkish artillery were too large to defend, the Catholic count assembled his last 600 men. "With this sword" he shouted as he held the bejeweled weapon aloft, "I earned my first honor and glory. I want to appear with it once more before the eternal throne to hear my judgment." Charging out of the remains of their stronghold, the courageous band was swallowed by a sea of Turks. To the last man the Hungarian knights died defending the Christian West. The Turks, furious at the losses their army had suffered, consoled themselves according to their grisly custom: they slaughtered every Christian civilian who had survived the siege.

In 1570, Soleiman's successor, his son, invaded Cyprus where the Venetians had a significant colony. It was no contest:

The Turks rolled through Cyprus, and after a forty-six day siege, the capital city of Nicosia fell on September 9, 1570. The 500 Venetians in the garrison surrendered on terms, but once the city gates were opened, the Turks rushed in and slaughtered them. Then they set on the civilian population, massacring twenty thousand people, "some in such bizarre ways that those merely put to the sword were lucky." Every house was plundered. To protect their daughters from rape, mothers stabbed them and then themselves, or threw themselves from the rooftops. Still, "[t]wo thousand of the prettier boys and girls were gathered and shipped off as sexual provender for the slave markets in Constantinople."

And these weren't even terrorists; these were ordinary Muslims, followers of the real, peace-loving Islam.

"Then," says our historian, "God intervened and sent one of history’s greatest popes, St. Pius V, who declared, 'I am taking up arms against the Turks, but the only thing that can help me is the prayers of priests of pure life.'" He formed the Holy League, and chose the 24 year old Don John of Austria as its military commander who, despite his popularity with the women at court, had "cultivated a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin."

He forbade women from coming aboard the galleys. He declared that blasphemy among the crews would be punishable by death. The whole fleet followed his example and made a three-day fast...Pius V had granted a plenary indulgence to the soldiers and crews of the Holy League. Priests of the great orders, Franciscans, Capuchins, Dominicans, Theatines, and Jesuits, were stationed on the decks of the Holy League’s galleys, offering Mass and hearing confessions...On the eve of battle, the men of the Holy League prepared their souls by falling to their knees on the decks of their galleys and praying the Rosary. Back in Rome, and up and down the Italian Peninsula, at the behest of Pius V, the churches were filled with the faithful telling their beads.

This is a world we can't even imagine anymore. And what had Pius V said to Don John upon conscripting him? He

looked Don John of Austria in the eye and declared, "The Turks, swollen by their victories, will wish to take on our fleet, and God—I have the pious presentiment—will give us victory. Charles V gave you life. I will give you honor and greatness. Go and seek them out!"

Imagine such words on Francis' tongue. You cannot. His is the voice of the liberal parasite in the mystical body.

I was wondering if the Pope thought that no truly religious man could ever fight a war for the sake of peace. When Hitler's giving millions of Jews a cyanide shower, I was wondering if it would be all right, as a man of religion, to want war as a means of putting a stop to it.

Only irreligious people want war. The "others." But I know a lot of irreligious people who don't want war. In fact, a big bunch of them interrupted Leon Panetta's speech at the Demo convention with chants of "no more wars."

But we all know what he was doing. He was trying to separate the true followers of the Religion of Peace from the terrorists. It is a true religion, even though it's false, at least in so far as it wants peace. The terrorists, the "others," follow a wicked perversion of true Islam (even though it's false), and therefore don't really have religion at all. It would be helpful if he, the Pope, would announce publicly that Islam is a false religion. He will never do this. As not the only but one of the primary representatives of Western intellectual, spiritual and moral cowardice, he seems really to believe that true Islam is a lot like Christianity in its desire for peace. If this is the case, it would likewise seem that whichever I choose to embrace is of no import.

I think his next encyclical ought to tackle this. What is it about Catholicism that he finds so attractive? Attractive, that is, as opposed to all other faiths?

That the terrorists were indeed religiously motivated is attested to by Sister Daniele Delafosse, who was able to escape the bloodletting: "...she witnessed the perpetrators gather around the church altar and perform some sort of religious oration in Arabic before forcing Hamel to his knees and placing a knife to his neck.." And later, according to the police, "One of them shouted, 'Allahu Akbar' -- Arabic for 'God is the greatest' -- as they left the church and were killed."

Well, it's a war of religion from at least one side's vantage point. This makes the Pope's words doubly ironic, since those "others" he refers to constitute the vast majority of our civilization. But most are not terrorists (yet) and do not want war. The West's problem is that it doesn't have a religion anymore. If it did, it might be able to recognize the enemy and figure out a battle plan. As it is, we flounder. He and we have decided, against all historical evidence, to gather all religions under one umbrella of meaning, which is that true religion of whatever stripe always desires the same thing: peace in the valley. What's the big difference between them? Can't we all just get along? We say things and think they're true. Just because we say them.

I don't know if any of these historical references are even relevant to what the Pope is saying, because it's impossible to know precisely what he's saying. That should be a problem, but it's apparent music to a lot of ears.

[Of interest: see this article by Lela Gilbert at She reveals the under-reporting of what in the U.S. would be called 'hate crimes' against Christians and Jews in France. One consequence has been that "10 percent of French Jewry has relocated to Israel since 2000." The Christians? "All told, 810 attacks on French Christian places of worship and Christian cemeteries took place in 2015." She provides pertinent links, one of which lists all the crimes against Jews for the year 2014. But you've never heard about them. She also reminds us that ISIS "has made its intentions clear: 'the Christian community… will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women….'”

And that statement of purpose differs from what Salim II pulled off in Cyprus how, exactly?]


Paul Cella said...

Submitted on 2016/08/07 at 4:43 am

Excellent post, Bill. I’m not a Catholic but I share your frustration and (let’s be frank) fury at the Pope’s culpable blindness. Jorge Bergoglio has proven to be a clueless provincial, I’m afraid.

I wrote up that conquest and massacre of Cyprus some years ago:

And also the great victory at Malta:

I also read this book recently:

Very sturdy and demanding history, but it fleshes out the Mediterranean world of Pius V with superb scholarly detail and reserve. It also leaves you with the strong impression that Europeans in the 16th century, while certainly possessed of more piety and martial vigor than today, were hardly eager for massive wars against the Turks. It required extraordinary, indeed saintly, leadership from Pius, along with some masterful diplomacy; and its required the military genius of Don John, who may have been a pious man, but who was also a stern and fearsome one. To fight and win wars, you need warlike men. Christendom dispenses with her warriors at great peril.

William Luse said...

Submitted on 2016/08/08 at 2:32 am

Sorry, your post was in moderation because it had more than two links.

I share your frustration and (let’s be frank) fury at the Pope’s culpable blindness. Jorge Bergoglio has proven to be a clueless provincial, I’m afraid.

A friend put it more bluntly: “This is what you get when you elevate a mid level provincial Latin American functionary to the office of Pope. The man is just not very bright, independent of his ideology (the same applies to e.g. Obama). Problem is he doesn’t, himself, really have a grasp of how dumb he is. A dumb Pope can work out fine if he has humility. Francis lacks both intelligence and humility…Francis needs our prayers, not to help him accomplish his incoherent agenda, but to keep his soul out of Hell.”

I remember those posts of yours. The stories cannot be told too often.

Christendom dispenses with her warriors at great peril.

Christendom no longer exists; therefore it has no warriors. The West is in a two-front war: the one against its own past, and the one against an enemy it refuses to name. It can win the former by neglect, but it cannot prevail in the latter, being spiritually exhausted.