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The Crusades - Crescent & the Cross

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Author Topic: The Crusades - Crescent & the Cross  (Read 389 times)
Astor Kitsimble
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« on: December 29, 2012, 03:45:10 pm »

Historian Franco Cardini Points Out Errors

ROME, JUL 21 (ZENIT).- The controversy over the Crusades continues unabated. 1999 is the 900th anniversary of the First Crusade -- an event that has opened the gate to anti-Catholic publicity attempting to discredit the Church and her teachings.

In a number of recent articles, the Crusades have been described as Holy Wars, and the massacre of Jews at the time as the anti-chamber to the Holocaust. The Church has been accused of constantly trying to eliminate its opponents in the name of orthodoxy.

Even on the face of it, the numbers and "facts" cited do not always line up. For example, an article in "La Repubblica," the second largest newspaper in Italy in terms of circulation, states that "the Franks massacred 70,000 people in a mosque," which implies that the mosque was as large as a modern sports stadium.

In order to clear the air of misconceptions and errors, historian Franco Cardini, an expert in Medieval history, wrote an article in the Italian newspaper "Avvenire," entitled "Crusades -- Not Religious Wars."

In his article, Professor Cardini explains that the interpretation of the Crusades as antecedents of religious and ideological wars, was a thesis upheld by Enlightenment circles. It was used as a pretext and was a misunderstanding of the Crusades.

According to Dr. Cardini, "the Crusades were never 'religious wars,' their purpose was not to force conversions or suppress the infidel. The excesses and violence committed in the course of the expeditions (which did occur and must not be forgotten) must be evaluated in the painful but usual context of the phenomenology of military events, keeping in mind that, undoubtedly, some theological reason always justified them."

"The Crusade was an armed pilgrimage that developed slowly over time, between the 11th and 13th centuries, which must be understood by being inserted in the context of the extended relations between Christianity and Islam, which have produced positive cultural and economic results," clarified the scholar. "If this was not the case, how could one explain the frequent friendships, including military alliances, between Christians and Moslems, in the history of the Crusades?"

In order to confirm his thesis, Dr. Cardini referred to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) who opposed the lay knighthood, which in the 12th century was made up of avid, violent and amoral persons, with "a new knighthood" at the service of the poor and pilgrims. St. Bernard's proposal was revolutionary -- a new knighthood made up of monks who would renounce all forms of wealth and personal power, who understood that an enemy might have to be killed during war if there is no option, but must never be hated. Herein lies the teaching against hatred, including during times of battle.

To think of the Crusade as a "Holy War" against the Moslems would be exaggerated, Cardini said. "In fact the real interest in these expeditions, in service of Christian brethren threatened by Moslems, was the restoration of peace in the East, and the early stirring of the idea of rescue for distant fellow-Christians. The Crusade posited reconciliation with the adversary before departure, renouncement of disputes and vengeance, acceptance of possible martyrdom, disposition of oneself and one's own property for the good of the community of believers, while pointing oneself to an experience in the light of which, for a certain number of months or perhaps years, one would follow Christ and the memory of the living Christ in the theater of his terrestrial existence at the height of one's own experience."
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