In 1094 or 1095, Pope Urban II is reported to have said this in promoting the First Crusade: “All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested…” (See, e.g., fordham.edu/halsall/source/urban2-5vers.html)
How are we to undersatnd this? What exactly is the pope promising - that people who go to war in the Crusade will be forgiven of all their sins? Does this mean that they didn’t have to repent of their sins? Can a pope - or possibly someone else - link the forgiveness of sins to something that does not involve individual conversion from sin? Can a pope tie the forgivenss of sins to warfare and killing?
I ask this because it seems from the context of the sermon that the pope was exercising his charism of infallibility. I am not saying anything about whether the Crusade was justified, nor about whether the pope had to play a role in preserving Europe and Christianity. I’m focusing on his teaching that those who joined the Crusade were forgiven of their sins because they were in the Crusade, because they were killing their enemies, etc. If that is what Pope Urban II was teaching, wasn’t that a change in Catholic doctrine? Or, were there implied conditions that were not stated? (Although, from some of the documents I’ve read, if there were such implied conditions, those requirements were almost completely lost on most of the people.)
Thanks for any help in better understanding this.