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Manifesto #1

Reconciliation Walk

Jesus Christ taught that his followers would be known by the quality of their love for others—even for their enemies who persecuted them. The Apostle Paul, reviewing the life and work of the Messiah, summarized the meaning of Jesus' life in these words: "Christ's love compels us…(he) gave us the ministry of reconciliation."

The early followers of Christ adhered to these values. Even when urged to resist Roman oppression and fight their ideological, political and religious enemies, the followers of Christ resolutely held to Jesus' command: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt."

By the end of the first Christian millennium this commitment had changed. Many Western Christians turned their zeal for Christ into political ambition. They succumbed to the temptation that the early Church resisted. Like the zealots who fought for the holy city of Jerusalem in the first century, these Christians decided to fight the Turkish, Arab, Greek, Assyrian and Jewish people that they viewed as their enemies. They exalted killing their enemies to such an extent that it was considered a virtue worthy of eternal reward. This was a clear contradiction of the non-violent, apolitical character of Jesus and the Apostles.

The Crusades served as a vessel for the ideology of political, violent, Christianity. Both the documented atrocities of the Crusaders against the peoples of the East, and the motivation and justification of the Crusades were wrong. We believe that the legacy of the Crusades is a cycle of distrust and misunderstanding that colors relations between the Western world and the East; and between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Now, to mark the 900th anniversary of the Crusades, we wish to make a gesture of reconciliation. To that end we are encouraging the descendants of the Crusaders to travel the route used by these warriors on their march to Jerusalem. The participants will deliver a message of apology and regret to residents along the way, striving to retrace the Crusaders' steps in the spirit of Christ.

The Apology

Nine hundred years ago, our forefathers carried the name of Jesus Christ in battle across the Middle East. Fueled by fear, greed and hatred, they betrayed the name of Christ by conducting themselves in a manner contrary to His wishes and character. The Crusaders lifted the banner of the Cross above your people. By this act they corrupted its true meaning of reconciliation, forgiveness and selfless love.

On the anniversary of the first Crusade we also carry the name of Christ. We wish to retrace the footsteps of the Crusaders in apology for their deeds and in demonstration of the true meaning of the Cross. We deeply regret the atrocities committed in the name of Christ by our predecessors. We renounce greed, hatred and fear, and condemn all violence done in the name of Jesus Christ.

Where they were motivated by hatred and prejudice, we offer love and brotherhood. Jesus the Messiah came to give life. Forgive us for allowing His name to be associated with death. Please accept again the true meaning of the Messiah's words:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Specifically, we wish to make clear that our apology embraces the following issues:
  • Jesus taught that his followers would be known for their love, a love that was willing to suffer, even if wronged.

    The Crusades violated this principle in every respect. Whereas Christ approached his enemies in humility, suffering death for his enemies, the Crusades demonstrated a spirit of vengeance.

  • Jesus and the Apostles declared that their kingdom was not of the world.

    In the Crusades, the Church acted as a nation of the world, making the Church an instrument of war, political force and violence. Christ's kingdom should not behave as a state, and specifically has no right to use force.


Manifesto #2

The Reconciliation Walk - Who are We?

The Reconciliation Walk is a symbolic measure designed to increase understanding between Western Christians and Muslims, Jews and Eastern Christians.

The Reconciliation Walk is designed to represent Western Christians living mainly in America and Europe.

As historian Jonathan Riley-Smith recently wrote, "There cannot be anyone of west European descent who does not have at least one ancestor who actively crusaded, or who contributed to crusading in some other way."

The Reconciliation Walk represents exclusively these descendants of the Crusaders who wish to make a gesture of reconciliation.

Therefore, the organizers of this event do not represent any indigenous Christian movements within the Middle East, and have not sought the participation of such groups in the Reconciliation Walk.

Accordingly, participants in the Reconciliation Walk will travel from their homes to visit the lands of the Middle East for a brief period of time and then return to their point of origin.

The Reconciliation Walk is limited to registered participants who have been approved through the Reconciliation Walk's application process and have agreed to abide by the rules and spirit of the Reconciliation Walk. All registered participants will take part in orientation training upon arrival in the Middle East.

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