A Catholic church in Midlands, Texas has made the news with an inflammatory sign. The message outside St. Michael’s chapel reads:
“Lepanto 1571: Mary and her Rosary, Annihilate Islam.”
When asked to comment, church officials stuck to their cannons:
“Islam is a false religion, it cannot offer eternal life,” Michael Banschbach, with St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, Inc, said when asked about the sign. “We live in a day and age now where everything has to be politically correct, we wouldn’t want to offend anybody, we wouldn’t want to make them feel bad.”
The pastor of another local church denounced St. Michael’s as “schismatic” (Oh snap!) But really, these folks deserve some credit. How many well-educated people even remember this critical naval battle from their high school history classes?
In October 1571, the unified navy of the Holy League (consisting of Spain, Venice, the Papacy, the Knights of Malta and others,) dealt the first significant defeat to the Ottoman galleys under the command of Ali Pasha and his allied Corsair commanders. Led by Don John of Austria, the 24-year-old illegitimate son of Charles V, the Catholics’ superior cannons routed the Turkish fleet and sank or captured approximately 200 ships at a cost of barely a dozen. Afterwards, the Ottomans regrouped with impressive speed, constructing a new fleet of some 250 ships within 2 years of the battle. This allowed them to reassert control over the eastern Meditteranean, and prevent the Christians from pushing forward to retake Cyprus or any other territories. However, the loss of almost 30,000 soldiers, sailers, and galley slaves (either killed or captured) was irreplaceable and ended the empire’s naval dominance for good.
So: While the church may be a bunch of ignant-ass haters, their grasp of history is commendable. That’s all I’m sayin’.