Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/28/2006 | Orthodoxy, not Islam, draws pope to Turkey
The Pope's visit to Istanbul (the historical Constantinople) this week seems especially significant, given the current level of conflict between Islam and the West. It was a call for reconciliation and support from the Eastern Patriarch to the Pope Gregory VII over 900 years ago that planted the seeds of the First Crusade. Then, as now, the Eastern Church was being threatened by Islamic domination of the region; and Gregory's idea, implemented by the next pope, Urban II, was to wage a holy crusade to liberate the Holy Land and relieve the Eastern Church.
Amazingly, the remnants of the Eastern Orthodox Church are clinging to life in Istanbul, despite the active efforts of the "secular" Turkish government to eliminate it. While Benedict's mission is ostensibly to restore relations with the Eastern Church, we have to wonder...what are the implications if he were to succeed in publicizing the plight of the Eastern Church to a sympathetic Western audience that is beginning to reach its tolerance of harrassment by the Islamic fundamentalist movement?
Might we be witnessing the beginning of the next great Crusade? And if so, how might this one be waged, so that it could succeed where all the historical Crusades failed?