Did the Pope grant salvation to those to faught the Crusades?


What is the history behind this, and the Theology. I have a Protestant friend who asked me and I’d like to give him an educated answer. Thank you.


Is not fighting for the defence of Christendom a noble undertaking when motivated by faith in Christ? If so, is it not acceptable for God (through His Church) to grant forgiveness of past sins based on such acts of Charity?


No pope has the power to grant salvation. That is reserved to God, and God alone. Whatever any pope may have granted to those who participated in the crusades, it wasn’t salvation.


Pardon me??? Matt 16:19 says of the Papacy “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


I have always been taught that the interpretation of this verse applies to the power to forgive sins, not to the granting of salvation. Jesus said in many places in the New Testament that He was the judge of all men and I have never seen where that power was delegated to man, nor have I ever been taught that.


Perhaps; I made the assumption (right or wrong) that if a Pope forgave the sins of an individual that their salvation was necessitated by that act of reconciliation. So yes, I’d say that technically you are correct, that only God can give us the grace necessary for salvation, even if that gift was necessitated by a Pope.

Come to think of it I’ve never heard of a Pope claiming to grant salvation to an individual (even during the Crusades)


The Pope does not have the ability to grant salvation to anyone, that is up to God.


So did the Pope really say that, or is this something somebody made up to attack the Catholic Church?


There’s a bit of confusion here. The forgiveness of sins is not the same as the granting of salvation. I think I see why there is some confusion at this point. Have your friend look at it this way: If the forgiveness of sins is the same as salvation then we would have no need of Christ. St. John the Baptist offered a baptism for the “forgiveness of sins”. Yet, he honored Christ as superior to himself. Moreover, Christ needed no salvation yet he received baptism. The blessed St. Athanasios insisted that repentance was not enough for salvation that there needed to be a redemption of the human nature itself that only God in the flesh could offer.

Foregiveness of sins is only one aspect of salvation. There is a life time of joyful obedience, healing, redemption, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that is also involved. Complete salvation is the work of God as is called by many names to reflect its complete work. Sanctification and Theosis are two of those names.



It’s likely a misunderstanding on the part of your friend.

Those going on Crusade may have received an Indulgence, partial or plenary. There were a number of Crusades and there were various indulgences offered for pilgrimages.

Those in combat also would have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to battle.

I’m sure that these facts have been miscontrued by those who know little about Catholicism as the Pope granting “Salvation”.


I believe that someone misinterpreted the pope offering a Plenery Indulgence to those who were willing to fight for the Holy Land. Either intentionally or by ignorance. They did not take into consideration that an Indulgence has no effect unless one is free of Mortal sin to begin with.


You can find the primary sources on the crusades here:

fordham.edu/halsall/sbook1k.html#The First Crusade

Medieval Sourcebook:
Urban II (1088-1099):
Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095,
Five versions of the Speech



The Pope never binds or looses anything apart from Christ, or inconsistent with the teaching of Christ.

Acts 15:11
11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus,

Acts 4:11-12
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Jesus did delegate that power to men, both in the forgiveness of sins, and in the discipline and authority of the Church. However, it is never used in any way contradictory to the teachings of Christ, which encompass those found in scripture.


The promise made by Pope urban has been twisted in many ways by revisionist historians. Some say he promised salvation for killin Muslims, others put other spins on his words.

Here is the actual quotation from Pope Urban’s speech, calling for a crusade…

**"Although, O sons of God, you have promised more firmly than ever to keep the peace among yourselves and to preserve the rights of the church, there remains still an important work for you to do. Freshly quickened by the divine correction, you must apply the strength of your righteousness to another matter which concerns you as well as God. For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it. **

"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. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let hem eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide."


That is correct. Those going on a Crusade specifically called by a Pope were offered an indulgence. An indulgence does not grant salvation, but only remits the temporal penalties due the sins we have already repented and been forgiven for in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In other words, it lessens our “time” in Purgatory. If we are not already in a state of sanctifying grace (i.e., already saved), indulgences do us no good.

Since the Crusades were primarily pilgrimages rather than wars of conquest (except for those with specifically military objectives like saving Constantinople from the Moslems as in the First Crusade, which is where the above sermon from Pope Urban II came from), the indulgence was attached to the pilgrimage, rather than the carrying of arms. You can get indulgences for certain prilgrimages even today.

If you want to have an informed perspective of them (not what you’ve been told by anti-Catholic Protestants, Muslims, teachers, and documentary makers), start with the following articles:



Do tell me where in the Scriptures it says the word “PAPACY” The keys were also entrusted to the other apostles to go forward and bring the news of Christ to other lands.

Peter undeniably had a special relationship with Jesus. However when it says “UPON YOU PETER I SHALL BUILD MY CHURCH” it said that I SHALL BUILD…not UPON YOU PETER YOU SHALL BUILD MY CHURCH. Christ said that to Peter b/c it is upon his faith that the Church of Christ will be built.

Regarding the Crusades, I’m not sure if the pope grants salvation to those that ransacked the the Church of the East (Constantinople). Pope JPII issued a formal apology when in Greece for the errors of the Catholic Church against the Eastern Orthodox.


I have a question regarding the Crusades. A bit off-topic, but it’s a related subject, so I think I’ll just ask here. Do you believe God inspired the Crusaders? If so, why did all the Crusades except the First (and the Albigensian Crusade) fail? And why were also all the Crusades except arguably the First Crusade wars of aggression against Muslims rather than defensive wars?


It’s painfully obvious you have not read any of the links provided on this thread but are content, right in character with your posts on other threads, to wallow in your anti-Catholic ignorance.:rolleyes:

Inspired like Sacred Scripture? LOL! Of course not silly! :smiley:

If so, why did all the Crusades except the First (and the Albigensian Crusade) fail?

Actually, overall, the Crusades were a success. If they were not, you’d be speaking Arabic and praying three times a day toward Mecca.

And why were also all the Crusades except arguably the First Crusade wars of aggression against Muslims rather than defensive wars?

They were not. Please read the articles provided and come away a little --no, a lot – more informed and hopefully a little less bigoted and ready to believe the worst about all things Catholic.


I don’t believe that whenever one has a question, one should have to read through multiple pages to find out if anyone else has already answered it elsewhere. I did that some in the Maryology thread before posting my questions there, and I read through three pages without finding anything that answered my question. I stopped there, for I don’t have unlimited time resources. I decided then to just ask my questions and wait for any answers, and if anyone responds by referring me to a specific post or article, I’ll look at it.

I didn’t mean inspired in the same sense as the scriptures. I meant inspired in the sense that God was on the side of the Crusaders and approved and willed their mission. For instance, Peter was sometimes filled with the Holy Spirit and then went and spoke to people as the Spirit led him. I was wondering if the popes were inspired by God to authorize the Crusades in the same way.

In the case of the First Crusade, Muslims were attacking the Byzantine Empire, so you have a case there. But in the case of the others, the acts of aggression started with the Crusaders.

I’ll look at the articles. Thanks for pointing them out to me!


I read four of the articles on this website. This article, the most in-depth of the ones I read, confirmed my statement that all of the Crusades against Islam failed except the First (though it did add that the Third reconquered a good deal of lost territory, while being unable to reconquer Jerusalem), as does this one. Fidelis, it might help if you read the articles yourself before citing them in an effort to contradict me!

The articles did disagree with my claim that most of the Crusades were wars of aggression, and their evidence for that regarding the Second and Third Crusades looked pretty good. They didn’t provide any evidence I could see supporting that claim for the later Crusades, but I have not dismissed their position regarding them. So I’m still looking for more information on those, to show that they weren’t wars of aggression.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.