Papal Quote: Reactions and Responses, part II

The reactions and responses to the Papal quote around the world is quite amazing, and amusing. The professor of medieval history and crusade historian Thomas F. Madden (and I shall point to his articles in the upcoming posts) has written an article in response to the outcry of the media, Muslim and multitude, explaining the context in which the controversial quotes was cited, saying that there is really no basis for all the reactions. The article is entitled “Unreasonable Response”. An interesting read, and pretty contentious to be sure.

Interestingly, all this talk about the Pope’s quotation of the Byzantine Empire seem to bring to the surface the popular prejudices and misconceptions people have of the Catholic Church. Some would eagerly declare that Benedict XVI’s remarks have “backfired” on the Church herself but, on the contrary, I rather think this is a providential opportunity to clear up a few popular misconceptions that such people, including Muslims, would have.

According to this CNN article, The Organization of the Islamic Conference said: “The attribution of the spread of Islam around the world to the shedding of blood and violence, which is ‘incompatible with the nature of God’ is a complete distortion of the facts, which shows deep ignorance of Islam and Islamic history.” The Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said, “We say to the pope to re-examine these comments and to stop defaming the Islam religion that more than 1 and half billion Muslims believe in”. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims has retorted by saying that that the history of the Catholic Church is also bloodstained:

After the bloodstained conversions in South America, the crusades in the Muslim world, the coercion of the Church by Hitler’s regime, and even the coining of the phrase ‘holy war’ by Pope Urban II, I do not think the Church should point a finger at extremist activities in other religions,”

That sounds fair enough – or does it? Let’s ask some questions here.

Afterall, everyone just knows about the uncivilized and bloody history of the crusades and the inquisitions, right? I mean, look at all those extremely historically accurate and trustworthy, unbiased accounts fed to us by Hollywood, for example :mrgreen:.

More seriously though – John Paul II did apologise for these atrocities, didn’t he? Just what did he apologize for? How much is truth and how much a popular myth? Can we really rely on the perception of the popular culture – the product initially of the Protestant reformation (which sought to discredit Catholicism), compounded to and amplified by the so-called Enlightenment (which sought to discredit Christianity) – to proclaim the truth?

In the following posts, I shall attempt to uncover the truth and expose the myths in the issues raised above and, seeing that it’s a good opportunity, a few other popular misbeliefs about the Catholic Church as well.

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