Concerns about Pope Francis’ stance on Islam were raised in March when he said the Catholic Church needs to “intensify” its dialogue with Islam. Is this an example of what he was talking about?
Via Catholic Herald:
Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.
The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.
When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths.
Primaldo inspired all the other townspeople to take courage, the late Pope said, and to say: “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” There were not “deluded” or “outdated,” Blessed John Paul continued, but “authentic, strong, decisive, consistent men” who loved their city, their families and their faith.
To this day, the Turks refuse to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, in which the descendants of the aforementioned Ottomans slaughtered over one million Armenians (Christians), many of whom refused to convert. What Pope Francis did this week was akin to challenging the Turks to deny the Ottomans slaughtered Italian Christians because they would not convert to Islam.
Incidentally, when the current Pope was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2006, he demanded that Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide.