Emptying the fish tank (2)

About six months ago, I offered an historical perspective on how Italy fought (and won) its own battle against terrorism.

It was a less ferocious strand of that virus, but it spawned massacres like the Piazza Fontana bomb or the one on the Italicus train or in the Bologna railway station.

My post concluded with a plea for islamic clergy to clearly define terrorists like Da’esh as heretics.

In six months the situation has gotten worse, and although westerners tend to get emotional over the carnage on the Promenade des Anglais, much worse has happened in Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq. It is clear that the target of the bearded crazies, now under intense military pressure,  is no more a fuzzily defined West, but the Rest of he World.

So I feel compelled to offer another history lesson (just to prove the point that whatever mistakes Islam may be making, Christianity has made them before and in spades).

Christianity lived through a profound schism (called the Western Schism) for most of the XIV century: initiated with the transfer of the Pope from Rome to Avignon in 1307, the Schism itself appeared with the return of the Papal Siege to Rome decided by Pope Gregory XI in 1377: upon his death, the french faction and the roman faction both elected a Pope, and Europe found itself divided in “french obedience” (France, Spain, southern Italy, Scotland) and “roman obedience” (Eastern and Northern Europe, northern Italy, England, Ireland) with the German Empire and Portugal flip-flopping between the two depending on political convenience.


In 1409, an attempt to resolve the problem made it worse by adding a third Pope to the existing two.

It took until 1417, when the Ecumenical Council of Constanze, having sorted out in three years of discussion the doctrinal differences (which in reality masked political necessities of the various factions), deposed all three Popes and elected a new one, Martin V.

The Ecumenical Council was not a “new” instrument: in the history of the Church it had been called sixteen other times (but only five since) to address doctrinal issues such as heresies. The 1414 one was the first time it was used to decide which Pope was the legit one, a thorny issue which potentially clashed with the dogma of the papal infallibility.

What is the lesson?

The Western Schism could not have been composed without stretching the mandate of the Ecumenical Council, something that was only possible because all parties recognized the explosive potential of the Schism to precipitate Europe into another endless war.

This is probably what is needed by Islam today: an extraordinary measure to sanction that the perversion of the words of the Quran to justify terrorism is an unacceptable heresy, and preachers of such hate doctrine should be publicly thrown out of Islam, for all faithful to see and stay away from.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s