Crusade and forgiveness of sins

I am trying to figure out what is meant and how this could be? This is a place were protestants see catholics as far removed from bible’s forgiveness of sins. Please help me understand from the catholic perspective.

“that those who do not go in person to the aid of the holy Land should contribute, according to their means, an appropriate number of fighting men together with their necessary expenses for three years, for the remission of their sins”

" We wish to share in this remission not only those who contribute ships of their own but also those who are zealous enough to build them for this purpose. "

" Let them consider beforehand, however with what conscience and with what security it was that they were able to** confess** before the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, to whom the Father gave all things into his hands, if in this business, which is as it were peculiarly his, they refuse to serve him who was crucified for sinners, by whose beneficence they are sustained and indeed by whose blood they have been redeemed."

“We therefore, trusting in the mercy of almighty God and in the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, do grant, by the power of binding and loosing that God has conferred upon us, albeit unworthy, unto all those who undertake this work in person and at their own expense, full pardon for their sins about which they are heartily contrite and have spoken in confession, and we promise them an increase of eternal life at the recompensing of the just; also to those who do not go there in person but send suitable men at their own expense, according to their means and status, and likewise to those who go in person but at others’ expense, we grant full pardon for their sins.”


Is the bolded section confess referring to confession?.

From the context in which you have given it does appear that confess is referring to confession of sins.

One thing to know about the Crusades is that it was primarily penitential. Their confessed sins were already forgiven, but the temporal punishment due to those still exist. That either needs “payed” in this world (through sacrifice, fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, alms giving, etc.) or in the afterlife (purgatory).

In essence the Crusades were an armed penitential pilgrimage with the Holy Lands as their goal. In todays terminology we would call what the Pope issued was a Plenary Indulgence (full remission of temporal punishment due to personal sin already confessed and forgiven).

It’s like breaking a window. I can be forgiven for that, but then I need to make atonement by paying for it and having it repaired. A perfect example from the Bible is King David who was forgiven and then still had to pay the temporal punishment for that sin and lost his son. Another from Jesus teaching can be found in Matt 5:19-25. Ending with verse 25 “Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.”

hope that helps

Hey jjsmity,

The Church teaches that successors to the apostles (ordained ministers) can act in the person of Christ to forgive sins:

"In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church” (CCC 1444).

This is based in Scripture (, but also comes from what we believe to be divinely inspired tradition.

I know I didn’t directly address the absolutions given during the crusades–I don’t know enough about them–but I’d imagine they were based in these teachings.

I think repliers could give you a more comprehensive answer if we could see your quotes in context. Could you list a source?

This is a good question though–one I’d like to see answered well myself :).


thanks for reply’s, the context is from the FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL

Fighting in the crusades or giving material aid to those who did was considered a form of penance.


You may want to understand what an indulgence is…

The Church also recognized the duration of temporal punishments could be lessened through the involvement of other persons who had pleased God (principle 5).

Sometimes a confessor[10] or someone soon to be martyred would intervene and ask, as a reward to the confessor or martyr, that the penitent have his time of discipline lessened. This was how the Church recognized its role of administrating temporal penalties (principle 6); the role was simply part of the ministry of forgiveness God had given the Church in general.

Scripture tells us God gave the authority to forgive sins “to men” (Matt. 9:8) and to Christ’s ministers in particular. Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you… Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).

If Christ gave his ministers the ability to forgive the eternal penalty of sin, how much more would they be able to remit the temporal penalties of sin![11] Christ also promised his Church the power to bind and loose on earth, saying, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). As the context makes clear, binding and loosing cover Church discipline, and Church discipline involves administering and removing temporal penalties (such as barring from and readmitting to the sacraments). Therefore, the power of binding and loosing includes the administration of temporal penalties.

Principle 7: God blesses dead Christia

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