Letter to the Catholic register published January 19, 2014:
There is much mythology surrounding the so-called Crusades. Fr. Ron Rolheiser alludes to this when he speaks of the faults of the "many saints who supported the Crusades" (The blindness in misguided loyalties, Jan 12).
To clear away historical debris: the Crusades were so named years after this series of wars occurred. Their numbering was also a later embellishment. Muslim historians named them after the nation of the invading force. No one has numbered Muslim invasions of Europe and once-Christian Middle Eats and North Africa.
The objectives of these wars varied. Originally intended to make the Holy Land safe for pilgrims, they deteriorated, as wars do, into campaigns of looting and atrocity. In one case, the invading Christians plundered Christian Constantinople.
The attacked lands were once Christian. Muslims have no cause of complaint for European attempts to recapture them. It wasn't misguided loyalty that inspired Christians to support the expulsion of Muslims from France, Spain and the Balkan peninsula,
Nor need Muslims apologize for their failed attempts to conquer Malta and Vienna. In the 1529 siege of Vienna, so great was the fear of Muslim expansion into the heart of Europe that Martin Luther urged Protestants to help defend the Catholic city. All of which is history with no current application and no need of apology or explanation.