457 years after the Great Siege of Malta, Pope Francis surrenders to Islam
Pope Francis, despite being the head of worldwide Catholicism, always seems to be apologizing for the faith. In Malta, that apology extended to hiding the cross from illegal Muslim aliens. This act of Christian cowardice was more poignant than usual, given that Malta, in the mid-16th century, was the site of one of the Catholic world's bravest and most successful stands against Islam's push to take over Europe.
The Republic of Malta is a tiny island located southwest of both the toe of the Italian boot and the island of Sicily. Travel farther west from Malta, and you will find yourself heading to Tunisia, in North Africa. Alternatively, if you head east from Malta, after passing from the Mediterranean Sea into the Aegean Sea, you will find yourself at the Bosporus, and the country known as Turkey today, but that was once home to the powerful Ottoman Empire.
In the mid-15th century, the Ottoman Turks emerged from the east to conquer Constantinople, the last remnant of the great Roman empire. They converted the magnificent Church of Hagia Sophia into the Grand Mosque of Hagia Sophia and renamed the city Istanbul. From Istanbul, they continued their conquests.
The Ottoman Empire didn't stop there. It gradually conquered most of the Balkans (and helped give rise to the story of Dracula, since Vlad the Impaler fought the Turks) and acquired large swaths of the Middle East, including Egypt and other parts of North Africa, the Holy Land, Baghdad, Mesopotamia, parts of the Caucasus region (which eventually were incorporated into the Soviet Union), some of the former Venetian empire, and more. The Ottomans seemed unstoppable.
However, by the mid-16th century, Europeans began to fight back. One of the most famous battles between Catholic Europe and the Muslim Ottomans occurred at the Great Siege of Malta. The Knights Hospitaller, whom the Ottomans had driven from Rhodes, had their headquarters there, and when the Ottomans attacked, they refused to yield. Instead, they and the citizens of Malta withstood a devastating siege that lasted nearly four months.
Image: Pope Francis in Malta. YouTube screen grab.
Nobody knows how many Maltese residents died, but it's accepted that the Turks lost between 25,000 and 35,000 troops from combat and disease. The day before they started the siege marked the apex of the Ottoman Empire's power. After that, its military invincibility ended, and the sultanate become increasingly corrupt, as weaker and weaker men ruled it. Nevertheless, the Ottoman Empire lingered for almost 300 more years, finally ending with WWI.
The point I'm trying to make is that when it comes to Europe's survival as a Christian community, the Knights Hospitallers' defense of Malta was one of the most important events in European history. That's why it was so disturbing to read that Pope Francis, when he appeared in Malta, hid the crosses so he wouldn't offend illegal Muslim migrants on that tiny island:
Organizers canceled the crucifix from the papal podium because Pope Francis did not want to offend illegal Muslim migrants during the climax of his Malta trip.
Instead, recycled plastic bottles with red blobs were used to design the backdrop for the pope's address to migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab in Ħal-Far on Saturday, a voluntary organization run by leftist Franciscan friar Fr. Dionysius Mintoff.
[Artistic director Carlos] Schembri, who was commissioned to design the key backdrops for the papal visit to Malta, insisted he was being faithful to Francis' primary reason for visiting the island — to defend migrants and the ecology.
"The podium will not be adorned with a crucifix, given that the majority of migrants are Muslim," the Malta archdiocese noted, in an article published on its website, adding that "the pontiff's visit is expected to draw attention to the brutal situation of Malta's migrant community."
You can read more at the link about the way Christianity and traditional values barely factored into the Pope's presentation. Although he did make the point that the current Western worldview "goes against the right to life from the moment it is conceived," he managed to avoid entirely words such as "Jesus," "sin," and "repentance," and he seemed more concerned with church politics and the rights of illegal aliens.
The past is in the past, of course. Still, I find it highly ironic that Malta, a place at which Paul preached and those Knights Hospitallers battled to the death in defense of their faith, should host a visit from the pope who seems embarrassed by that same faith and ready to give way to the ideological descendants of the island's one-time enemies.