Christian History is Hardly Ever a Straight Line Print
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 08 February 2009 12:59
David Curp, historian extraordinaire of eastern Europe - and of 20th century Poland in particular - is a dear friend and husband of occasional ID blogger and long time CSI collaborator Sherry Curp (AKA "the other Sherry"). A couple years ago, Dave wrote an illuminating article about the Church's involvement in slavery for the old Crisis magazine which is being featured as Inside Catholic's lead post today.

Dave is really good example of a lay Catholic who understands excellence in his secular vocation to be a call from God and an outgrowth of his faith. Dave has spent many an evening explaining the fine points of post World War II ethnic cleansing, the struggle of the Catholic laity of Poland to deal effectively with their communist rulers, or the relationship of the future John Paul II to other Polish prelates. Dave generously gave me a week of his time last fall to facilitate my research into the French Catholic revival of the 17th century.

As you can see from his article, Dave is very clear that real Catholic history is not apologetics. He is convinced that by helping his students develop the intellectual disciplines and mojo necessary to wrestle with issues of historical truth, he is fostering habits of mind that will also help prepare them to pursue larger Truths as well.

As Dave sums up his brief summary of Catholic involvement with slavery:

. . . tragically, slavery was part of the dirty war that Islam and Christianity waged against one another for centuries throughout the Mediterranean. In the 15th century it appeared that Islam, led by the Ottomans, was on the verge of final victory.

But even if the circumstances mitigate some of the guilt of Rome's involvement in slavery, it's a scandal nonetheless. And while the fear -- perhaps even the necessity -- for Christians to fight this war was real, its sad legacy remains with us.

History demonstrates that our earthly pilgrimage is rarely a straight line to a happier, progressive future; moral advancement is hard-won and easily lost. That the world finds it difficult to see Christ in the Church isn't simply a result of sin's blinders. Too often our own grievous faults and failures have become obstacles themselves. We do no service to Christ or His Church by refusing to acknowledge it