Can the Pope still call for War?

I think I know the answer to this, but could the Pope call Catholics to war? I know people will immediately think of the Crusades, but Pope Urban II called on the kingdoms to go fight for the Holy Land. So the Kings of the age sent their troops while the Pope established military orders like the Knights Templar, and later the Knights of Malta. Can the Pope though, in theory, call on Catholics to physically fight for a particular cause? Also, just because I am interested in this topic, would it then be a sin for Catholics not to obey? This, of course, is not going to happen anytime soon, but something worth discussing. I believe one of the tenets of Just War Theory is that war be declared by a legitimate authority- so does the Pope count? Afterall, despite a Catholic’s citizenship in his own land, he is also a citizen of the Catholic Church.

One thing that comes to mind is the situation in Africa where Muslims will come in and raid villages or attack Christians at Mass. I have read where Christians now need to arm themselves in order to protect themselves and their Churches against these terrorists. The Vatican is quiet about this, but I imagine bishops in Africa have varying opinions. Yet, one thing I have wondered- also along these lines, but couldn’t the Pope once again create military orders in Africa who swear loyalty to the Pope and also swear to protect Christians under attack in Africa? Or Syria or whatever. Forgetting the international red tape, isn’t that still something the Pope could do?

If a Pope did something before, he can always do something again, but that kind of response wouldn’t be prudent, since the Crusades were patented specifically for the kingdoms of the time. The Christian realms were never morally obliged by the Pope to go on the Crusades. The basic structure was this:

The Pope(s) used their spiritual and temporal influence to call a Crusade. They were launched to secure several recently conquered cities in Asia Minor in order to assist the Byzantine Empire and to maintain the safety of the pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Pilgrimages were a very popular pious act during this era, and the Crusades were considered an “armed pilgrimage” through which you could gain indulgences. The Church helped prosper the Crusades by protecting the lands of those lords & their entourage who answered the call from being taken over while they were away on their armed pilgrimage (taking over an absent lords estates while on pilgrimage would also be viewed as seriously sinful and I believe can and did prompt ex-communication) So through a combination of indulgences and protection from exploitation, the Pope was able to raise a respectable army.

There are no such thing as lords & vassals anymore, so it wouldn’t be possible for there to be a new “crusade” through such means. A Pope could still theoretically openly support a particular armed conflict. Our current Pope did so during his time as a younger man in Argentina, although having an open endorsement from the Vatican itself is a lot more muddy and something the Church tends to be extremely hesitant about. I think a lot of it falls on the backs of the bishops (or patriarchs).

So you are saying the Pope cannot call Catholics to fight? The Pope does not have any rule over any other government, other than the Vatican, so you’re right about not having the influence over monarchies.

Lords went on crusades and received indulgences and were granted protection of their estates while absent. They were not bound, under pain of damnation, to go on a crusade. A crusade is not a doctrine in any shape or form. It was a response to a problem during a particular era.

You could also join a military religious order and make certain vows. Many of the crusading castles bordering the Caliphate lands were reinforced with Templar.

I am not necessarily talking about the Pope calling for another crusade. I’m talking about calling individual Catholics to fight for any particular reason.

You could always form some sort of volunteer army.

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Pax Christi!

Cool question! Interesting and original.

I guess I have no idea. Certainly the Pope has no troops to send into battle (except the Swiss Guard), so he can’t make like Julius II and ride off to war.

Popes who called for Crusades didn’t order anyone to combat, but rather enticed Christians with iffers of indulgences. Carrots but not sticks, so to speak. Exception: unfulfilled vows to go on Crusade could result in excommunication. Frederick II would be an example.

But without such a vow, could a Pontiff order someone to fight?

Good one.

God bless.

Didn’t the Pope recently question whether the just war theory could be justified in the contemporary world? I think the Pope’s authority is the same as it ever was, but whether it would be prudent for him to use it, or even be effective, given the Church’s diminished power these days, is the more practical issue at hand.

Let’s say the Pope did call for a war. How many Catholics- even priests- would even obey this kind of declaration? Catholics don’t even obey the church’s teaching on contraceptives and promiscuity. I doubt that they’d risk life and limb for her. Sorry if this came out too cynical…

Not really. It is an absurd, ridiculous idea to think that Christ’s shepherd to the souls of the world would call on the members of the Church to make war against another. The Church does not involve itself in politics; her response to any situation is based on the Truth and the Gospels. The Church is above politics.

Hi Tim:

This is rebuttaled by Pope Benedict XV during the era of modernism at the turn of the 20th century. The Church is not an insular institution that is above politics, because politics involves people, and people are the mission of the Church. It is very much involved with politics in the defense of life, family, and the faith. Popes, including our current one, have all given voice on topics relating to war conflicts.

When St John Paul II apologized on behalf of the Crusades, he was addressing the abuses that occurred during it, not of their existence as a whole, as though he were uncanonizing the saints of that age, such as St Bernand of Clairveaux.

The contemporary environment makes war extremely difficult to justify, and a modern equivalent of the Crusades wouldn’t make sense, but this is not a condemnation of the idea of the Church involving herself in war conflicts in the absolute sense. Those who would haphazardly adopt this view are thinking about the small picture of their puny lifetime and their puny culture, and risk embarrassing the Church at a later date.

Pope Benedict XV, along with Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary did everything they could to stop the war that was destroying the foundation of Europe. The Church washed itself clean of politics with the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929.

Catholics would not be obliged to fight.

we need to crusade the muslims again
yes i am joking, kind of
we need to do something about them though

Ive often thought the Vatican should bring back the crusaders to deal with abortion.I think this would solve the problem very quickly and I think God would fully support such an action.

Im still somewhat surprised God has not taken direct action in this regard though, look at what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah…how long did these 2 cities go on unchecked before God finally decided on their destruction? Im not sure how long, but Im assuming it was not 100s or 1000s of years either.

Plus, he destroyed those 2 cities for sexual sin, something that is MUCH less severe than killing the unborn.

This still amazes me, but I guess God knows full well what is going on, just strange he has yet to act, when he clearly acted in the past on such things.

Terrorists who bomb abortion clinics have only done more to harm their cause. I’d dare say we’re lucky that Islamic terrorists today have drawn attention away from them but liberals aren’t likely to forget the stain Christian ones have left.

We are called to be crusaders, to pray the daily rosary, to attend adoration…

prayers and fasting are what stopped the black mass at Harvard.

Father Larry Richards devoted his perpetual adoration chapel for the closing of a nearby abortion clinic …and it closed!

Yes the Pope can and should call Christians to fight spiritual warfare with prayer, fasting, catechesis, almsgiving, living the commandments.

Peace to all!!

So, do you think God was a terrorist when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the reasons he did?

If ANYONE else was to do something like this, they would be immediately labeled a domestic terrorist and probably called a hate monger, for killing people due to sexual sins/ homosexual acts, etc.

Im not one to promote violence, but when it comes to abortion, we can see nothing else has worked to completely stop it nationwide, judges go back and forth, some banning it, some lifting the bans, so its kind of a cat and mouse game, but abortions keep on happening every day, so something else needs to be tried to stop it imo. if that means the vatican bring back the crusaders and order them to make sure the killing stops, then so be it, I would support that wholeheartedly.

If you look at the numbers of these murders going back to when abortion was legalized, it is actually more than all the jews and others killed by Hitler!!!..plus, we have to remember, decades from the time abortion is stopped, those that are responsible for it, will be called heroes and go down in history for what they did, look at how everyone views the allies in WW2 now, they are greatly respected for stopping this, as will those that stop abortion, but not in the present time, they will have to go thru a period of being called terrorists and haters, but long term, it will be good for them imo.

Ive actually emailed the vatican a couple weeks ago, suggesting they should bring back the crusaders to put a stop to abortion, I think if it came to that, many christians would support such an action, or get behind it after it started. An action like this would also force people to take sides…those are against will stand with the crusaders and those trying to stop it and those for abortion would likely stand with the clinics I guess, Im not sure if local law enforcement would even get involved in such a thing, as they would not really have a ‘hand’ in that fight.

So you expect the Church to order Catholics to take to the street and use violence and destruction to bring abortion to an end? You have no idea what it means to be Catholic.

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