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Wicked Pope, Moors, Siege of Vienna
1492. A threefer:
1. Muslims tossed out of Spain
3. Alexander VI starts pontificate
Okay, first the conquest of Grenada. This had been a Muslim stronghold for years, the southern part of Spain. Since 1300, the Catholic Spaniards and Portuguese had controlled the entire Iberian Peninsula . . . Except Granada. Ferdinand and Isabella decided it was time to finish this thing off, even though it meant an enormous effort. The Moors were ensconced down there. They launched this “crusade” in 1486. A little over five years later, in January 1492, the last of the Moors were killed or gone.
This then left Isabella free to honor her commitment to Columbus. She told him she would finance his expedition to reach China from Europe once she got the Moors out of Grenada.
So, Columbus. Hero or genocidal madman? Both? Needless to say, we aren't going to resolve this here, but a few general comments.
First, I think the unequivocal praise of Columbus over the years helped cause the huge politically-correct backlash that we've seen over the past 30 years. Columbus did a lot of bad things. When you consider the times and the relative moral conditions that existed then, they're a bit more understandable, but they were still bad by any standard. The unequivocal praise heaped on him for hundreds of years was a bit disturbing, but let's face it, that's not the real reason he has become the whipping boy of the postmodern left.
The real reason goes back to the structuralist arguments of de Saussure and Claude Levi-Strauss, who believe language creates culture, including a culture's morality and ethics, and there is no set of moral norms, that all cultures, therefore, are equally arbitrary and, therefore, of equal merit. The problem with this theory is, Christianity was embraced by native populations, who immediately recognized it as a superior intellectual and moral development over their wicked gods who demanded human sacrifice. The problem with this theory is, people in the new worlds embraced market systems, preferring them to working as slaves for the king and ruling classes. The problem with this theory is, the new worlds liked European culture, recognizing the greatness of, say, Shakespeare. The problem with this theory is, the Europeans developed science and technology, and that development was made possible by modes of thought and systems put in place by the Judeo-Greek-Catholic culture.. There's a reason Hindus, who looked at wading into the Ganges to be eaten by crocodiles as among the highest modes of consciousness, didn't. The same goes for every other quote system unquote out there, whether it was Shogun Japan, aborigines in Australia, or the American Indian.
In short, the problem with this theory is, the theory is one big problem. European culture was better and was dominant, and the evidence is overwhelming. The way to get around it? Shout down Columbus and other explorers by trumpeting the atrocities. They can shout all they want, however. The fact remains: western culture was simply better. Perfect? Frick no. Did the conquered cultures have no merit? Frick no. But it's undeniable that western culture was better in almost every way, and because that is an inconvenient fact for the leftist thought, it devotes alarming amounts of energy to denying it, and Columbus is at the forefront of it.
The final thing from 1492 that I want to mention is Rodrigo Borgia. He became pope in 1492 and took the name “Alexander VI.” You might call this “peak Renaissance Popes,” which means “Peak shame for the Catholic Church.” When he was elected, joyfully cried, “I am Pope! I am Pope!” People knew there was a huge problem. Ferdinand and Isabella were genuinely shaken when they heard he had been elected.
I mean, this was a bad man. He kept a 19-year-old mistress openly. I guess she was smokin' hot, and her husband sometimes objected to the Pope banging her. At one point, the husband was going to put an end to it, and Alexander VI threatened to excommunicate her if she wouldn't keep banging him. He was in his early sixties, by the way. She was 19.
He had other mistresses as well, and illegitimate children, one of whom he appointed as a cardinal and others he favored with other benefits of the Papacy,
Those are all facts. You can assume even the most pro-Catholic historian would have to blush and admit them. On top of those, there were the political machinations and duplicity that were common to the day (this was also “Peak Machiavelli” time), plus allegations of incest and murder (neither of which are true . . . probably).
Okay, so what do you do with Alexander VI? Well, admit that he was one of probably six or so downright bad popes, in the sense that they're bad on anyone's moral compass. The Church has had plenty of other “bad” popes , in the sense that they were ineffective, more lax in their morals than you'd like, or unseemly political (I'm looking at you, Pope Francis), but probably only six downright BAD men as Popes. Out of 266. That's like batting .978. The major league record is held by Hugh Duffy at .440. Christ batted .910 . . . Going 11 for 12 in his picks.
You also have to admit it's a problem with the Catholic worldview. If such a bad man can become Pope, how can we claim, one, that the selection process if guided by the Holy Spirit, and, two, that grace flows through the Catholic Church to the rest of the world?
I can't fully respond to either, but with respect to the first, we can't question the Holy Spirit there was a reason and, as Job learned, it's not up to the part to understand the whole.
Yeah, well, I have my doubts there, but that'll have to wait.
Maybe a better explanation would be to prove Matthew 16:18. Christ said he would establish his church on the Rock of Peter, who became the first Pope, and the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Alexander VI brought the gates of hell to the gates of Rome and Rome didn't fall.
With respect to the second concern, well, suffice it to say, Alexander VI didn't change an iota of dogma. He didn't even try. He was too busy with political, military, and sexual intrigue to bother with dogma. He didn't much care about it. The same goes with all the bad popes. No matter how bad in their personal lives, they never changed an ounce of Church dogma, and metaphysically speaking they can't. That's why they're Pope. A Pope could no more make a mistake on dogma than a Chevrolet could be a Honda. If the Pope can make dogmatic mistakes, then the Catholic Church's entire ecclesiology collapses and we all need to become Greek Orthodox. That's one reason Catholics started freaking out when Pope Francis started his pontificate by touting the virtues of gay sex and divorce. I wasn't freaking out. Annoyed and occasionally angry, yes, but not freaked out. I knew he couldn't cross that line and he didn't I have no doubt that Francis, easily the most liberal pope ever and the most political pope since the Renaissance, I have no doubt that Francis the MAN wanted to, but Francis the Pope simply couldn't. It was no more possible to cross that line that it is for 2+2 to equal 8.