World View: Pope Francis Canonizes 800 Otranto 'Martyrs' of Ottoman Army

World View: Pope Francis Canonizes 800 Otranto 'Martyrs' of Ottoman Army

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Pope Francis canonizes 800 Otranto ‘martyrs’ of Ottoman army
  • Taiwan sends warships into South China Sea near Philippines
  • Suicide rates increasing substantially among Boomers
  • Millions of Chinese internet users vow not to commit suicide

Pope Francis canonizes 800 Otranto ‘martyrs’ of Ottoman army

Otranto Castle
Otranto Castle

The new Pope Francis on Sunday canonized over 800 “Martyrs of Otranto”as saints, the largest such action in the history of the CatholicChurch. At the same time, two Latin American nuns became saints.

The 1480 Battle of Otranto was ordered by Muslim Ottoman forces underthe command of Sultan Mehmet II, known as Mehmet the Conqueror. Atage 21, on May 29, 1453, Mehmet had led the successful capture of thecity of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), possibly the mostglobally significant battle of the last millennium, as it ended theChristian Byzantine Empire and began the Ottoman domination of theentire region. In 1480, Mehmet acted to destroy the Roman Empire onceand for all by capturing Rome, and then all of Italy. Mehmet’s armadalanded in Otranto in the “heel” of Italy’s “boot” on July 29, 1480.The citizens of Otranto, with the tales of horror of the fall ofConstantinople still fresh in their minds, realized that they werevastly outnumbered, and surrendered. According to Catholic accounts,the Ottomans segregated the women and children, who became slaves,from the men. Some 800 men were ordered to convert to Islam. Theyrefused, and proclaimed that they would die for Christ. On August 14,1480, the men were beaten and decapitated, one by one, in full view ofthe others, and then put into a mass grave. According to Catholichistory, not only did they become martyrs, but their actions were amiracle, because they also saved Rome from capture by the Ottomans,since they forced a delay that gave the Italian troops in Rome time toprepare. Mehmet the Conqueror died on May 3, 1481, and is thought tohave been poisoned.

Not surprisingly, parts of the Catholic accounts are disputed byMuslim scholars, who describe the actions of Mehmet much morecharitably, both in Otranto and in Constantinople. Of significancetoday is that Muslims view this mass canonization as a new anti-Islamattack by the Catholics. And that may indeed have been the intentionof Francis’ predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who formallyapproved the canonization of the 800 — and did so on the very lastday of his papacy, leaving the job to be completed by PopeFrancis. and Guardian (London)

Taiwan sends warships into South China Sea near Philippines

Taiwan on Sunday dispatched four warships to patrol waters in theSouth China Sea near the Philippines, in response to public outrageover the Thursday’s shooting and GMA Network (Philippines)

Suicide rates increasing substantially among Boomers

Since 1999, there have been substantial increases in the suicide ratesof United States adults aged 35-64. The three most common suicidemechanisms were firearms (i.e., penetrating injury or gunshot woundfrom a weapon using a powder charge to fire a projectile), poisoning(predominantly drug overdose), and suffocation (predominantlyhanging). The suicide rate for men aged 35-64 years increased 27.3%,and the rate for women increased 31.5%. Among whites, the rate forwomen increased 41.9%, and the rate for men increased 39.6%. Firearmsand suffocation were the most common mechanisms for men, whereaspoisoning and firearms were the most common mechanisms for women.Possible contributing factors for the rise in suicide rates includethe recent economic downturn (historically, suicide rates tend tocorrelate with business cycles, with higher rates observed duringtimes of economic hardship); a cohort effect, based on evidence thatthe Boomer generation had unusually high suicide rates during theiradolescent years; and a rise in intentional overdoses associated withthe increase in availability of prescription opioids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Millions of Chinese internet users vow not to commit suicide

In the last few days, millions of Chinese internet users have postedonline pledges not to commit suicide:

“I will never commit suicide. If I die unexpectedly,I was killed by others and the police should investigate thecrime.”

The pledges are actually an anti-government protest, following thesuspicious death of Yuan Liya, a young clothing store worker inBeijing. The rumors are that she was gang-raped by security guardsand thrown off a high balcony, but police ruled the death a suicide.Angry protesters demanded an investigation, but they were quicklysilenced by hordes of police. Deaths by “forced suicide” are thoughtto be quite common in China, as police use the technique to silenceactivists. BBC

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