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Analysis: Farewell to the Fourth Crusade wads - 16/04/2004 12:58:05 AM

I thought this was an interesting article. I've always liked the Byzantine Empire and the sacking of constantinople was terrible. Personally I reckon the battle of manzikert was an even bigger disaster, but that's just me.

Analysis: Farewell to the Fourth Crusade

By Uwe Siemon-Netto
UPI Religious Affairs Editor

WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- In the face of the contemporary challenge by radical Islamists, Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism are bidding farewell to the hatred caused by the Fourth Crusade exactly 800 years ago.

The spiritual leader of the Orthodox faithful formally accepted an apology Pope John Paul II offered in 2001 for the three-day sacking of Constantinople in April 1204.

The city, until then the wealthiest in Christendom, never recovered from this event, which permanently weakened the Greek Empire, a bulwark that had protected Europe for centuries against Muslim incursions.

"The spirit of reconciliation is stronger than hatred," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople during a liturgy attended by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France, considered to be a potential successor to the present pope.

"We receive with gratitude and respect your cordial gesture for the tragic events of the Fourth Crusade," said Bartholomew, the titular head of Orthodoxy.

Referring to the Easter season, Bartholomew added, "The spirit of reconciliation of the resurrection incites us toward reconciliation in Christ."

Two years ago, the pope had asked for God's forgiveness for the "sins of action and omission" Catholics had committed against the Orthodox, including the destruction of Constantinople, an event whose cruelties ended all attempts to overcome the great schism between the Western and the Eastern Church 150 years earlier.

Much of the Vatican's contrition over this butchery has to do with the appalling comportment of Catholic clergymen during the siege of the center of Eastern Christianity.

The Crusaders were reluctant to attack fellow Christians, but the clergy convinced them that the Orthodox Byzantines were almost as bad as the Muslims. They had allied with Saladin against the Third Crusade, and had done nothing to aid the Second Crusade; they should be punished for their lack of support.

During the rampage, in which even the Crusaders' cooks participated wearing their pots as helmets, ancient works of art were annihilated. The Crusaders returned to Europe brimming with plunder, including a novelty for the West -- wallpaper, a Chinese invention that until then had made its way to Constantinople, but no further.

"Between the plunder and the fire ... Constantinople was ravaged so badly that it never recovered," writes Ellis "Skip" Knox, who teaches history at Boise State University in Idaho. "It would not return to anything like its former glory until the Ottomans had conquered it and turned it into a great Muslim city."

"Maybe recent events (meaning terrorist acts by Muslim extremists) have leant urgency to recent attempts at healing the rift between the Eastern and the West Church, including the pope's apology and now its acceptance by Bartholomew I," Knox suggested in a telephone interview.

The Rev. Emmanuel Clapsis, dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology at Brookline, Mass., was even more outspoken.

"We have to see to it that the Christian Church reconciles and recovers its broken unity," he told United Press International Thursday. "That's the will of Christ. Christianity's division is a scandal."

"The Church must breathe again with both lungs," said Clapsis, using a term John Paul II had coined during his pilgrimage to Greece in 2001.

The pontiff's encounter with Greek prelates went surprisingly well, as did his subsequent meetings with Orthodox prelates in Syria, the Ukraine and other countries.

However, the intransigence of the Russian Church has so far proved to be a seemingly insuperable hurdle in the pope's quest for Christian unity.

A recent visit by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's chief ecumenical officer, with the Russian hierarchy "accomplished nothing," according to Claus-Peter Clausen, publisher of a Catholic newsletter in Germany and a specialist on the tensions between Rome and Russian Orthodoxy.

The main obstacle is the existence of Catholic "uniate" churches, which are loyal to Rome but have maintained rites are identical to those of the Orthodox denominations.

The uniate have been around since the 16th century. "But with the liberation of Eastern Europe, their existence created unexpected difficulties," said Clapsis, one of Orthodoxy's foremost ecumenists.

"However, I am very optimistic that by God's grace and our determination we will overcome these temporary obstacles," he added. "If we allow God's grace overcome our human reservations, we can resolve problems even with Russia."

"After all," he went on, "both the Holy Father and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew are committed to the unity of the Christian Church."

Could this happen during this pope's lifetime, which may not be very long anymore?

"This is an active and real possibility," the Greek Orthodox scholar replied. "Unexpected things may occur -- since we are in the speed of the resurrection."


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Analysis: Farewell to the Fourth Crusade - 16/04/2004 12:58:05 AM 170 Views
*shrugs* it IS interesting, but... - 16/04/2004 12:59:43 AM 26 Views
I disagree - 16/04/2004 01:01:06 AM 21 Views
i know its about symbolism - 16/04/2004 01:03:11 AM 15 Views
But the symbolism - 16/04/2004 01:05:55 AM 15 Views
i'm not saying it won't - 16/04/2004 01:10:04 AM 13 Views
The Pope's gesture, while admirable - 16/04/2004 01:42:22 AM 27 Views
better late than never : he is at laest triyng - 16/04/2004 09:04:55 AM 10 Views
Very interesting - 16/04/2004 07:52:20 AM 13 Views
- 16/04/2004 10:06:30 AM 17 Views
But, if you fought at that battle, - 16/04/2004 10:27:37 AM 9 Views
Meh - 16/04/2004 10:40:27 AM 9 Views
No - 16/04/2004 10:45:18 AM 8 Views
- 16/04/2004 11:30:28 AM 11 Views
- 16/04/2004 11:33:23 AM 8 Views
Ah. - 16/04/2004 11:42:28 AM 8 Views
Bugger - 16/04/2004 11:46:49 AM 6 Views
See?! - 16/04/2004 11:48:25 AM 6 Views
Woe? - 16/04/2004 11:58:56 AM 5 Views
And sorrow. - 16/04/2004 11:59:59 AM 7 Views
Oh - 16/04/2004 12:07:39 PM 6 Views
I agree that Manzikert was worse for Byzantium, but... - 16/04/2004 11:13:28 AM 14 Views
And yet it was crucial to opening up the eyes of the West - 16/04/2004 11:41:34 AM 13 Views
But - 16/04/2004 11:45:55 AM 12 Views
What ifs are not the subject of historians and students of history. - 16/04/2004 11:52:12 AM 18 Views
I just tend to dislike absolutes,I just always feel we never know 100% - 16/04/2004 12:01:23 PM 9 Views
Agreed we dont know everything. - 16/04/2004 12:33:45 PM 7 Views
But it wasn't the sack per se that led to the Renaissance... - 16/04/2004 04:41:39 PM 9 Views
The Crusades are a horrible blight on the face of Christianity. - 16/04/2004 12:38:54 PM 11 Views