Benedict's most recent provocation accidental or deliberate? The
Bavarian is a razor-sharp reactionary cleric. A man who organises
his own succession to the Papacy with a ruthless purge of potential
dissidents and supervises the selection of Cardinals with great
care leaves little to chance.
think he knew what he was saying and why.
a quote from Manuel II Paleologos, not the most intelligent of
the Byzantine rulers, was somewhat disingenuous, especially on
the eve of a visit to Turkey. He could have found more effective
quotes and closer to home. Perhaps it was his unique tribute to
Muslim world with two of its countries - Iraq and Afghanistan
- directly occupied by Western troops does not need to be reminded
of the language of the Crusades. In a neo-liberal world suffering
from environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, repression, a
'planet of slums' (in the graphic phrase of Mike Davis), the Pope
chooses to insult the founder of a rival faith.
reaction in the Muslim world was predictable, but depressingly
insufficient. Islamic civilization cannot be reduced to the power
of the sword. It was the vital bridge between the Ancient world
and the European Renaissance. It was the Catholic Church that
declared War on Islam in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. Mass
expulsions, killings, forced conversions and a vicious Inquisition
to police the cleansed Europe and the reformist Protestant enemy.
fury against 'heretics' led to the burning of Cathar villages
in Southern France. Jews and Protestants alike were granted refuge
by the Ottoman Empire, a refuge they would have been denied had
Istanbul remained Constantinople. 'Slaves, obey your human masters.
For Christ is the real master you serve,' said Paul (Colossians
3: 22-24) in establishing a collaborationist tradition which fell
on its knees before wealth and power and which reached its apogee
during the Second World War where the leadership of the Church
collaborated with fascism and did not speak up against the judeocide
or the butchery on the Eastern Front. Islam does not need pacifist
lessons from this Church.
civilization cannot be reduced
to the power of the sword. It was
the vital bridge between the
Ancient world and the European
Renaissance. It was the
Catholic Church that declared War
on Islam in the Iberian Peninsula
and Sicily. Mass expulsions, killings,
forced conversions and a vicious
Inquisition to police the
cleansed Europe and the
reformist Protestant enemy.
was and is not the prerogative of any single religion as the continuing
Israeli occupation of Palestine demonstrates. During the Cold
War the Vatican, with rare exceptions, supported the imperial
wars. Both sides were blessed during the First and Second World
wars; the US Cardinal Spellman was a leading warrior in the battles
to destroy Communism during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Vatican
later punished the liberation theologists and peasant-priests
in Latin America. Some were excommunicated.
all Christians joined in the crusades old and new. When Pope Urban
launched the crusades the Norman king of Sicily refused to send
troops in which Sicilian Muslims would be compelled to fight against
Muslims in the East. His son, Roger II, refused to back the Second
Crusade. In doing so they showed more courage than the leaders
of contemporary Italy, who are only too willing to join the imperial
crusades against the Muslim world.
make sure of being right in all things', said the founder of the
Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, 'we ought always to hold to the principle
that the white I see I should believe to be black if the hierarchical
church were so to rule.'
most Catholic prelates in the West (including the Bavarian in
the Vatican) and politicians of Centre-Left/Right worship the
real Pope who lives in the White House and tells them when black
Tariq Ali's latest book is Rough Music: Blair, Bombs, Baghdad,
Terror, London (Verso). He is also the author of the recently
published Street Fighting Years (new edition) and, with David
Barsamian,Speaking of Empires & Resistance. He can be
reached at [email protected]
here to order Tariq Ali books.
Other articles by Tariq Ali:
A Protracted Colonial War
On The Death Of Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Iraq's Destiny Still Rests Between God, Blood And Oil
A Despised Leader Suffers His First Loss
Pakistan Will Never Forget This Horror
The Logic Of Colonial Rule
A Viler Barbarism
The Price Of Occupation
The New Ultra-Imperialism Of The World
"They Think God Runs The IMF"
Imperial Delusions: "Domocracy Promotion" And Resistance
The New Model Of Imperialism: Saddam On Parade
The Importance Of Hugo Chavez: Why He Crushed The Oligarchs
Getting Away With Murder
The War Is Not Going Well For Bush