The Papal Apology Tour 2004

The next stop on the Papal Apology Tour, Turkey.
The Pope recently expressed, “sorrow over Constantinople.”
Not Istanbul, but Constantinople.
Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Much like the Crusaders couldn’t resist some rape and pillage during the sacking of the city in 1204. The Pope thought it had been a bad idea, and wanted to apologize to Orthodox leaders while Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, was in Rome this week.

The Pope said he welcomed the patriarch to the Vatican with “joy” and hoped for a healing in the long rift between Eastern and Western Christianity. “We are praying that the Lord of history purifies our memories of every prejudice and resentment and allows us to freely proceed on the road of unity,” he said.
Al Maviva asked why I couldn’t accept the apology of the Pope as that of an institution, trying to make things right.
Then and now the apology looks like an attempt to curry public favor and gain political favor. The church is losing adherents because of sex abuse scandals, doctrinal differences, the church being out of touch, and a dying Pope.
The ground work for re-unification will be most easy for the current Pope, as he is basically a lame duck, and he can humble himself with no real loss of face. That makes it easier for his successor to follow up with a clean slate, and start things fresh.
This is a good thing for the institution, but it is not a wholly altruistic act.
I don’t know if unity is even possible, as the two churches have some major theological and political differences. I also don’t even know if it a good idea that the two churches merge. Some might suggest that a unified Christian Church would balance out the rise of Islam in the world. That certainly would bring back some bad memories for the Arab nations.
Why, there might be a slot on the Apology Tour for a future Pope, after the Unification Crusades of 2020.



  1. Al Maviva

    I think the bigger issue than the Rape of Constantinople, was the West’s refusal to come to the aid of that City State / Empire when it was under siege by the Turk in 1453. Not only did that result in a massacre of the inhabitants, but it led to the Turkish destruction of untold numbers of ancient (classical) artifacts, manuscripts, and other things of great cultural significance.
    On the other hand, some people would ask why Constantinople got the works, and say it’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

  2. steven saporito

    When this showed up on Fark, a fair number of people sang, said, that.

  3. Alan K. Henderson

    I think the bigger issue than the Rape of Constantinople, was the West’s refusal to come to the aid of that City State / Empire when it was under siege by the Turk in 1453.
    You mean the Liberation of Constantinople?
    I wonder if there’s a similar article out in cyberspace totled “The Near-Liberation of Vienna” or “The Near Liberation of Southern France.” Blast that Charles Martel!

  4. M. Scott Eiland

    I’d prefer it if the Pope apologized for the Vatican issuing a plea in 1999 to the Bosnian women who had been raped by Serbians to not seek abortions–a despicable act that the Pope *was* directly responsible for. There is a time when one should just keep one’s f***ing mouth shut, and the Vatican decided to ignore that concept and abuse those women further. The Pope should be ashamed of that lapse and atone for it.

  5. steven saporito

    As usual Scott perfectly points out something that I should have included in my piece.
    I would love it if the current sins of the church were addressed instead of fretting over things that happened centuries ago.