President Obama offended Catholics at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. “Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place,” he said, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
Bill Donohue said, “Obama’s ignorance is astounding and his comparison is pernicious,” adding that it was done to “deflect guilt from Muslim madmen.”
The Crusades, Donohue pointed out, were a defensive Christian reaction against Muslim barbarians of the Middle Ages. He quoted Princeton scholar and Islamic expert Bernard Lewis: “The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war—to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.”
Regarding the other fable, the Inquisition, the Catholic Church had almost nothing to do with it. Secular authorities saw heresy as treason; anyone who questioned royal authority, or who challenged the idea that kingship was God-given, was guilty of a capital offense. It was they—not the Church—who burned the heretics.
According to St. Louis University professor Thomas Madden, “All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars.” Donohue questioned, “How many ISIS atrocities, Mr. President, have met the criteria of just wars? The ones where they buried people alive, stoned children, raped women, and crucified men?” He called on Obama to apologize.