The Popes against Islam
Up until 30 years ago, the Popes have been the most consistent, most implacable and most effective enemies of Islam in history. The ancient Zoroastrian Persian emperors who had ruled most of the world until the advent of Islam folded under the onslaught of Islamic armies. The Byzantine emperors fought valiantly but failed. The Emperors of the western Holy Roman Empire, particularly the Hapsburg emperors, were consistently anti-Islam and led several successful struggles against Islamic armies—but they too were too often distracted with rivalries with other European powers to play a central role in the defeat of Islamic aggression against Europe. The Mongols battered Islam but they were weak ideologically and spiritually and so were ultimately either converted to Islam and just faded away into the mists of history. The Confucian Emperors of China were consistently anti-Islam but they were less threatened by Islamic armies than the rest of the world so they never had to confront Islam ideologically as did the rest of the world. The Hindu and Buddhist emperors in India have for centuries fought Islam but were too divided to prevent conquest and forced conversions of population in the North of India.
The only enemies Islam has never defeated are the Popes…at least until now.
Papal enmity against Islam began with the birth of Islam. They right at the beginning branded Islam a heresy and that has been the church’s position ever since. Gregory III (731-741) convinced Charles Martel to fight against invading Muslims at Tours (732). Without that victory Islam may have conquered France. Leo IV (847-855) himself fought at the battle of Ostia, saving Italy from Islam. Alexander II (1061-1073) funded the beginning of the reconquest of Spain. Urban II called for the crusade for the Holy Land at Clermont in 1095. Two hundred years of crusades would follow with many conquests by the West in the Holy Land but ultimate defeat due to internal divisions among European powers. There followed, from the 1300s to the 1800s, 500 years of repeated assaults of Islamic armies against Christendom. The climax of Islamic destruction of Christianity came with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The Popes had worked feverishly to awaken Europe to come to the defense of the Byzantines –all to no avail. Nevertheless, the Popes began again to chalk up victories against Islam. Pius V (1566-1577) organized the resistance at the great naval battle of Lepanto and Innocent XI both funded and organized resistance at the great siege of Vienna (1683) and Innocent XIII did the same for the battle of Malta (1726-24). These 3 battles, Lepanto, Vienna and Malta literally saved Europe from becoming Muslim as the Ottomans finally began to decline militarily and ideologically.
The post Vatican II Popes have attempted to emphasize the good things about Islam (they venerate Mary for example) and to cultivate cordial relations with Islam. I think this is a terrible mistake. We all need to awaken to the mortal threat to Christianity that is Islam