The Crusades, ethics experts, the priest shortage, etc.


Thank you for Paul Moses's article on St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Kamil (“Mission Improbable,” September 25). Francis was not alone in trying to resolve the conflict through conversion—St. Louis would try that approach in 1270, and Pope Innocent III had himself called on the Sultan to convert before the Fifth Crusade began. Still, it is important not to overlook the reasons for the crusade. The crusaders saw themselves as liberators of lands that had been seized from Christians. They had also been told by Armenian and Egyptian Christians of the persecution of Christians in the East. Finally, there was the loss of Jerusalem to Saladin. Al-Kamil was attempting to restore the unity of Saladin's empire under himself. He was willing to negotiate with Christians but not to make serious concessions that would impede such an empire. He offered the return of Jerusalem under conditions that made it virtually impossible to accept. Francis's aims were not in opposition to those of his fellow Christians. He shared their desires and worked for them in a peaceful way.

James M. Powell
Fayetteville, N.Y.



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