Justification for the Crusades applicable today?

Hi,
Recent events in the mideast & Europe, where islamist terrorist groups attack & target non-sunni muslims, has got me wondering about the justification for the Crusades & why there are no similar movements today?

In those days, the pope himself spoke about the sufferings of the christians who lived in areas conquered by the muslims & publicly declared that it was legitimate & even praiseworthy for christians to try to reconquer those territories. This initiated the movement we call “The Crusades” that spanned from helping the Emperor of Byzantium reclaim the formerly byzantine mideast (which he requested from the Pope) to reconquering the Iberian Peninsula from the muslims.

Todays christians in the mideast suffer no less than did the christians back then. They were & are faced with a choice of either converting to Islam & thus renouncing Christ. Or accept 2nd class status; incl. payment of a poll-tax called the Jizya, along with a lot less legal rights compared to muslims (disputes often cost christians their lives) & a lot less “communal rights” in that the building & maintenance of churches was prohibited or strictly regulated. Or facing execution.

Islamic Empires have varying degrees of strictness in application of the islamic law depending on which school of jurisprudence the particular Caliph/Sultan ascribes to. That’s why the christians & non-christians were pretty good off in the Ottoman Empire & India - since the turkic islamic peoples belong the the so-called Hanafi school of jurisprudence.

ISIS, Al-Nusra etc. don’t belong to this more lax form of sunnism (which they consider illegitimate) but ascribe to the more strict forms of the early islamic empires.

So why is it that the Pope of today doesn’t act as the popes of previous times did? I understand norms change, but is the justification which existed back then different today?

How do you post new threads?

The Jizya is a tax levied on non-Muslims in lieu of military service which is compulsory for Muslims but not for non-Muslims. The amount of Jizya is much less than the Zakat tax, which is levied on Muslims only. Also, non-Muslims receive services from the Islamic state.

That is one side of the story. The other side, along with the history is here…

thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/jizya.aspx

Take note of that those who could not pay would frequently lose their children to the tax collectors. Also, that it was used to fund military expansion and obtaining a supply of young men to train for military service after they had been taken from those families who couldn’t or didn’t pay. I suppose that would count as paying the tax, “in lieu of” their sons being conscripted to military service.

Do you wish to provide a specific country where your version is the actual way that the tax is applied? Also, rather than “much less,” do you have official documents from those countries that show specific amounts?

The Crusades were generally monumental failures often because of some seeking seeking power and riches under the umbrella of the Church of some Church authurities/power. It didn’t “work” well then and would be just as damaging now. this is not a blanket condemnation of the Crusades, but bear in mind that many good, spiritual crusaders were to put to the sword or lost their lives. Sometime read about THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADES of which you don’t hear or read much about.

'Though we are in a "modern enlightined era, the general culture of the Middle East is deeply embedded in the people and not likely to change anytime soon short of an all-out nasty war and no one wants that-or at least I hope not. Think of a Crusade as a movement…a spiritual movement, an awakening…the finger of God touching the hearts of men. Now that kind of crusade is what we should go for and pray for.

Part of the reason comes from politics. The original crusades were supported by several Catholic states who worked together to combine their military strength. There are very few Catholic states today. Malta is still officially Catholic. Most of the countries in Latin Americas come to mind, but there’s a difference there: I think they have majority Catholic population, but don’t have official state churches, and I don’t think their leaders take their faith seriously enough to attempt a crusade.

In order to have a crusade, you can’t just send out a request for a bunch of people to go to Israel and fight. There has to be military training and an authorized leader. The original crusades were primarily a call for knights to go to war and their countries to support them. Commanders were worked out on an international level. If we did something similar today we would have to primarily call for trained soldiers to go to war. We could ask the countries of origin to support them, which would help. But it is my guess that no countries would answer the call, maybe only one or two, and, perhaps worse, most soldiers wouldn’t be allowed to leave their period of service to go on an unauthorized mission.

The pope has spoken out in favor of military action against ISIS:

“With terrorism one must fight, but I repeat what I said in my previous trip: when an unjust aggressor must be stopped, it must be done with an international consensus.” source

“One nation alone cannot determine how to stop an unjust aggressor. … To stop an unjust aggressor is a right of humanity, but it is also a right of the aggressor to be stopped in order not to do evil.” source

“In reaffirming that it is licit, while always respecting international law, to stop an unjust aggressor, I wish to reiterate, moreover, that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response.” source

That is similar to what the crusade popes did. They said it was legitimate for an international military to go to stop the Muslims. That’s what Pope Francis says too. The popes then said we Must do this. So has Pope Francis. In historical context, Pope Francis’s call was in the midst of a coordinated effort by several countries to stop Isis, including the USA, France, and Australia. (Russia recently started to help too.) In the original crusade period too, France, Italy, and Germany went in to fight. To me, this too is similar.

In those days, the pope himself spoke about the sufferings of the christians who lived in areas conquered by the muslims & publicly declared that it was legitimate & even praiseworthy for christians to try to reconquer those territories. … So why is it that the Pope of today doesn’t act as the popes of previous times did? I understand norms change, but is the justification which existed back then different today?

In my view, what the pope is doing today is very similar to what the popes did back then. A big difference is that he has to deal with secular governments rather than Catholic ones. The pope has talked several times about the legitimacy of fighting ISIS, and has even said we “must” do this. (See the quotes above.) But he can’t organize a Catholic army to do this, because there are very few Catholic states and modern military authorities aren’t willing to release a big chunk of their soldiers to form a Catholic army. Instead, the pope is supporting efforts by international non-Catholic nations to go in and fight ISIS, while reminding them to follow the principles of just war.

You may also be interested in the group Sons of Liberty International. They are a group that provides military training for people who want to fight ISIS. They were founded by a gentleman who earned his degree in Middle Eastern Security Studies from Georgetown University, which is Catholic (at least in name). I’ve helped donate some money to them and they provide regular updates about their training programs in the middle east and their military successes. Here’s their website. They are currently training two groups to fight ISIS on a volunteer basis: Dwekh Nawsha and the NPU (the latter appears to be more explicitly Christian and Catholic).

I hope that helps. Please let me know if it does. God bless!

I believe that Radical Islamists do want an all out nasty war. They have formed a Caliphate and they have no intention of stopping until the sun never sets on their Caliphate. Just because you bury your head in the sand doesn’t mean that your enemy isn’t going to continue to attack the rest of your body until you are dead.

Radical Islamist want Christians dead or enslaved. You live in fantasyland if you think otherwise.

My own view is that the crusades was 100% justified & genuinely Holy struggles undertook by pious western Christians for the sake of the body of Christ oppressed by Islamic rule. In the Mideast, the local Christians were orthodox & not strictly in communion - yet thousands upon thousands were willing to lay down their lives to help their brothers & sisters in Christ. ‘For a greater Love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brother’ as it’s said.

When studying the crusades & minority life under Islam I urge everyone to read the actual documents produced by the people living at that time in those places. For some truly horrific stories I recommend the Christian Armenian Ariastakes works who retell how women & priests were being mercilessly slaughtered after torturing & one priest was even tortured by having his skin removed slowly by the Turks.

The Jizya is extortion. For instance, the 21 Coptic Christians who were decapitated by the Islamic State in Libya were given the 3 traditional options; renounce Jesus & convert to Islam or pay the Jizya or die. Because they couldn’t afford the tax they chose death & died repeating the name of Jesus.

Now, is this not a case wherein warfare is considered just? Is the culture fostered by such a religion not directly harmful to the humans living there in a way no other modern religion is? I could even see a moral case for imperialism in such circumstances.

I’m sure the mideastern crusades failed in the long term because of the division within the Christian ranks. The western Christians were divided between kings & dukes who sometimes warred against each other & between the Byzantines. When one crusader party sacked Constantinople - the crusades were doomed.
However, the crusades are very important for the formation of European nation states (particularly Spain) & had they agreed to submit to the military command of the Byzantine Emperors & the religious schism resolved - the Crusades would probably have succeeded. Egypt for example was 50% Christian until the 1500’s & the situation was similar in Syria. Islamic states generally preferred ruling non-Islamic people’s because they could arbitrarily increase the Jizya to raise money etc etc.

I didn’t know he had spoken so explicitly about it, excuse my ignorance. In the 1st crusade, Pope Urban II made a speech to the Knights of Europe, urging them to go on crusade after having received an official request from the Byzantine emperor. He also declared that fighting I the crusades merited an indulgence & I don’t think that element is present in today’s context.

The Catholic Church also had military orders & didn’t only rely on states - although I do understand such an effort would probably not be as effective as in those days when religiosity was the drive for everything, including politics.

The Russian Orthodox Patriarch has said they’re in a Holy War for the protection of the Christians of the east as well.

No problem, I like to spread knowledge of less well-known quotes from our Holy Father.

In the 1st crusade, Pope Urban II made a speech to the Knights of Europe, urging them to go on crusade after having received an official request from the Byzantine emperor. He also declared that fighting I the crusades merited an indulgence & I don’t think that element is present in today’s context.

I don’t think so either. Not all Catholic military efforts have involved an indulgence. The Cristero War of 1926 is perhaps the most recent modern effort by Catholics to organize a military effort against a persecutor, other than the NPU’s fight against Isis that I linked to earlier. The Cristeros were similar in many respects to the Crusaders. For example, they had the moral support of the pope at the time, who wrote about them in one of his encyclicals: "[The Catholics] of Mexico have organized resistance and ‘set up a wall…to stand in battle.’ (Ezekiel 13:5) … [T]he Knights of Columbus…[have promoted] the Federation for the Defense of Religious Liberty, which…organize[s] and instruct[s] Catholics so that they [may] be able to present a united invincible front to the enemy.” (Pope Pius XI, Iniquis Afflictisque 17&26)

Now it is noteworthy that the pope at the time didn’t offer an indulgence for people who joined the war effort, but he did support the people fighting. It seems to me that Pope Francis’s words about the war on Isis can be used for a similar purpose. He hasn’t offered an indulgence to get people to fight, but he has talked about the moral need to fight against Isis, and his words can be used to remind people to support or volunteer for groups like the NPU or Sons of Liberty International.

The Catholic Church also had military orders & didn’t only rely on states - although I do understand such an effort would probably not be as effective as in those days when religiosity was the drive for everything, including politics.

Yes. There are some military orders that still remain in existence, but all of them no longer train any of their people for combat, at least not that I’m aware of. The last one to actually train its people for combat, I think, was the Religious and Military Order of the Armed Brothers of the Sahara. That military order was founded in 1890 to defend black people from enslavement. They used guns and combat training as part of their efforts. I think the order was absorbed into the White Fathers around the year 1892 and they dropped their military function. Perhaps its time to start up a new military order? There is precedent for it. In my opinion, the Armed Brothers of the Sahara and the Cristeros are recent enough examples of military Catholicism to say the tradition continues today.

On the other hand, a Catholic military group doesn’t need to be a religious order. The NPU (link) is a military organization with Christian and Catholic roots and they’re fighting the good fight against Isis. If we want to imitate the pope and encourage people to fight Isis, why not just encourage them to join or support the NPU? If it got big enough it could really make a difference. (Note: the above paragraph isn’t meant to imply that the pope has specifically encouraged people to join the NPU. Like most people, he probably isn’t aware of them. They’ve only got 5,000 people and most of them are still in training.)

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