Matt C. Abbott
The battle of Lepanto; Readers' e-mails
By Matt C. Abbott
September 28, 2009

From the Sept. 27 bulletin of St. John Cantius Parish:

    'On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between 'oared' ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    'Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was decisive, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady. At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: 'The Christian fleet is victorious!' and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.

    'What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory. At Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome, close to the tomb of the great St. Pope Pius V, one was once able to view yet another Islamic flag from the Battle, until 1965, when it was returned to Istanbul in an intended friendly token of concord.

    'The Rosary

    'At Lepanto, the Victory over the Moslems was won by the faithful praying the Rosary. Even though they had superior numbers, the Turks really were overmatched. Blessed Padre Pio, the Spiritual Father of the Blue Army, said: 'The Rosary is the weapon,' and how right he was! The Battle of Lepanto was at first celebrated liturgically as 'Our Lady of Victory.' Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed 'Our Lady of the Rosary' and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716 (who canonized Pope Pius V in 1712).

    'And with that we are back to Fatima, Portugal where Our Lady, when asked her name, said: 'I am the Lady of the Rosary.' At Fatima, Our Lady taught us to pray the Rosary every day. Heaven presented its peace plan at Fatima and truly gave us hope for the world. Conversions were promised at Fatima: the conversion of sinners; the conversion of Russia; and what also appears to be the conversion of Islam.

    'Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!'

Thomas Ackerman writes:

    'I read with interest your article supporting jail time for women who have abortions [click here to read the column]. I am anti-abortion and have worked on pro-life campaigns before and recognize this as the morally consistent principal. After all, unless a woman has been forced into an abortion or is truly ignorant that her child is alive in her womb, she is fully responsible for this horrible crime.

    'However, I question supporting jail time for women based on the simple fact that we live in such a morally confused society. There are so many people, tragically, who would willfully have an abortion that jailing every one of them would mean jailing an enormous portion of society. For this reason, why not focus on the far smaller number of doctors? After all, approximately zero of them are forced into doing abortions or are ignorant of the child's living status.

    'Perhaps this is accommodation, but I see it as a necessary accommodation due to the raw material we are dealing with here — an errant and confused population. After all, we do not hold the entire German people responsible for the crimes of the Nazis, although we know very well that they share some degree of responsibility and that not every one of them were ignorant of Nazi atrocities. It was the German people who brought them to power in the first place anyway. But we forgive them, and we do not suggest punishment.

    'As another example, I would bring up instances in the Bible in which the Almighty practices accommodation towards practices which are clearly against His law. God teaches accommodation towards wartime rape, despite the fact that the Torah commands execution towards anyone who finds a woman in a field and forces himself on her. Rather than demanding execution for soldiers who rape or kidnap women as wives, God commands a waiting period for them — take them home, let them grieve for their families, and then later decide if you truly want them as a wife.

    'Now we can not apply every facet of this law to our different society, but we can see the principal of accommodation; God knows what kind of raw material He is working with, and demanding execution for every soldier who goes after a woman could mean wiping out half of Israel.

    'Today the raw material in some societies has changed. Soldiers can, and do control themselves. If you asked a modern rabbi, priest or pastor, whether we ought to punish soldiers who kidnap women, they would all say yes. Society has become more moral in this one regard, and it is more possible to consistently enact strict justice.

    'I hope you can see the point I am getting at. While many women who have abortions may be clearly doing evil with willful intent, enacting strict justice on such an out-of-control population could end up with enormous portions of it locked up. For this reason I suggest enacting strict justice for the doctors, and waiting until our moral sense as a people grows, before enacting strict justice for everyone.

    'One can always counter-argue and say — what if we applied that principal to all situations? That would be madness. And yes it would be. However, I am not suggesting doing so in all situations, but choose this situation for several reasons. Firstly, we are far more morally confused about abortion than we are about murdering a person who has been born. Secondly, there is simply an enormous number of women who would do such an act, and far fewer who would murder anyone but the unborn. Thirdly, there is the added practical difficulty of separating those who are forced or unknowing from everyone else. Hence, I suggest accommodation here, rather than elsewhere.

    'I hope you will consider these points.'

Shane Kleinrichert writes:

    'Great article [click here to read the column]. This is my constant dilemma when I am debating people who oppose morality. I was engaged in a similar debate with some friends regarding abortion and marriage, etc. For the most part it is hard for some of my friends to really define what is right or wrong. Even faced with a moral argument they still fall back to the same thing the woman in the article did by noting that they can't judge someone even though they think it's personally wrong. These are the same people who claim to be Christians. I usually have more respect for die hard atheists in that at least they and make a decision and defend their point of view. Anyway great article. Your point was well demonstrated.'

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


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