Bons mots from Christopher Tyerman, Fighting for Christendom (2004):
The Templars occupy a prominent place in the pantheon of Alternative History of the ‘what they have tried to conceal from us’ genre, championed by obsessive, swivel-eyed anoraks and conspiracy theorists allied to cool money sharks bent on the commercial exploitation of public credulity.
[Regarding “Pope John Paul II’s apology to Jews, Muslims, and Eastern Orthodox Christians for the intolerance and violence inflicted by Catholics warriors of the cross”] Although it is difficult to see how even Christ’s Vicar on earth can apologize for events in which he did not participate, over which he had no control, and for which he bore no responsibility, this intellectually muddled gesture acknowledged the continued inherent potency of crusading…
There can be no summoning of the past to take sides in the present. Plundering history to deliver modern indictments serves no rational or benign purpose. To observe the past through the lens of the present invites delusion; so too does ignoring the existence of that lens. However, the burden of understanding lies on us to appreciate the world of the past, not on the past to provide our with facile precedents or good stories, although of the latter the crusades supply plenty.