Papal Infallibility and the Crusades


#1

I never thought this would be a problem, but twice while dicussing religion (well, Christianity) I’ve come up with this general dicussion.

But the pope claims he in infallible, and that’s crazy!

But infallibility only means he won’t err when teaching solemly on a matter of faith and morals.

But look at the Crusades!!11!!111!

The crusades are not a matter of “faith and morals.”

Yes they are! He said they could kill people [or something like that]. That’s connected with faith and morals!

Uh, no, they aren’t connected to “faith and morals.”

But of course they are.

No they aren’t.

Yes they are.

You see what I mean, ad nauseum.

And no matter what I say, in both conversations, the sticking point was the crusades are immoral, and therefore the pope is not infallible. To me, this never occured to even be the case. That’s why it has perplexed me both times that I’ve heard it. I quite simply don’t know how to answer to “it is a matter of faith and morals.” Because they both kept insisting that it is connected to faith and morals, and no matter how hard I insist (and argue) to the contrary, they keep saying so.

Any help here?

(I never even have half a mind to discuss the papacy, it’s so far from my mind in any discussion, but it seems to always come up!)

Thanks.


#2

By authorizing the Crusades the pope is neither defining a doctrine concerning faith or morals, nor speaking ex cathedra, nor intending to teach and bind the consciences of the whole Church. So, none of the required conditions for papal infallibility are there.

The person you are talking too is confusing impeccability (the personal morality of the pope) with infallibility.

A crusade is an administrative policy/disciplinary/pastoral act and those are not guarded by infallibility.


#3

[quote=Genesis315]By authorizing the Crusades the pope is neither defining a doctrine concerning faith or morals, nor speaking ex cathedra, nor intending to teach and bind the consciences of the whole Church. So, none of the required conditions for papal infallibility are there.

The person you are talking too is confusing impeccability (the personal morality of the pope) with infallibility.

A crusade is an administrative policy/disciplinary/pastoral act and those are not guarded by infallibility.
[/quote]

I said the thing about impeccability too.

As for the three prerequisites for infallibility-- good point!

No offense meant to any Protestants-- and yes, I know a statement like “no offense” is usually followed by the most outlandish, offensive statement you’ve ever heard, I’ll try to avoid that-- but I think many Protestants are wholly unable to understand the idea of the papacy because of the vastly different angle they come from at what the Church is. I don’t really blame either of them, because it just seems so foreign to most Protestants. But neither do I think that any simple explanation is going to work. Some people are just going to have huge mental blocks about the idea. It may just need an explanation and time.

My purpose wasn’t to get her even to accept infallibility, merely to not have that singular misconception about it.

Oh well. Any more advice?


#4

On the crusades themselves, I think your friends have been following modern revisionist histories too closely. The Crusades were a defensive war, called to protect fellow Christians from Muslim assault.

From 600 AD on, Islam has been an expanding religion, which has aimed to conquer the lands of Christianity. This continuous war or “jihad” began just three years after Muhammad’s death and continued continuously for the next thousand years. In this time the Muslim overran the Christian Lands of

Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine 630 AD
Egypt 650 AD
North Africa, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco 700 AD
Spain 780 AD
Southern France 790 AD
Sicily 850 AD
Southern Italy 860 AD
Turkish borders 900 AD
Armenia and Georgia 1050 AD
Central Turkey 1070 AD
Greece 1300 AD
Bulgaria and the Balkans 1400 AD
Constantinople 1450 AD

Of all the New Testament Churches, only a single one, Rome, escaped Muslim domination.

Piratical raids and campaigns of raiding on land, slave-taking and slaughter took place virtually every summer for a thousand years to destabilise neighbouring Christian lands. No permanent peace with “infidels” was allowed by Islam.

The one time the Christians decided that enough was enough and united to fight back was the Crusades. And it is arguable that without them, Europe would be Muslim ruled today. The Crusades had two causes:

  1. An appeal from the Byzanine Empire because the Muslims had broken through their defenses and laying waste to Christian Anatolia.

  2. The systematic destruction of Christian sites in the Holy Land and the prevention of pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

This is from Pope Urban II’s call for a crusade at the Council of Cllermont in 1095

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.

Muslim attack on Armenia, 1059, 30 years **before ** the Crusades.

On Sunday 6th August the siege of Sebastea began, as did the slaughter; thousands of corpses littered the ground. What a dreadful scene. The bodies of highly renowned men were piled in a heap as if a forest of trees had been felled. and the ground was soaked with blood…
They ruthlessly massacred an immense number of people, carried off booty and took untold numbers of captives, men and women, young boys and girls, whom they sold into slavery… Fateful day! In a matter of minutes sebastea and the surrounding plain were bathed in blood. The clear waters of the River Kizil Irmak which cuts through the city walls, suddenly flowed red.

In 1064 the Turks returned. He made his way towards Armenia and entered the country; the inhabitants were put to the sword and driven into slavery. The infidels were so numerous that they covered the plains and closed off al the escape routes. Then he invaded Georgia, bringing death and slavery wherever he went. … The Turks exterminated all the inhabitants, men, women, priests, monks and nobles; the young boys and girls were taken away captive into Persia…" Chronicle of Matthew of Edessa.


#5

Then the Muslim attack on Byzantium came in 1071, 20 Years **Before ** the Crusades. They killed and slaughtered thousands in the cities of Anatolia. reaching to the very gates of Constantinople.

Princess Anna Comnena Alexiad
fordham.edu/halsall/basis/AnnaComnena-Alexiad15.html

And I think that men who lived then and associated with him must even now be marvelling at what was done then and think it was not real, and it must seem a dream and mere vision to them. For ever since the time when shortly after Diogenes’ accession the barbarians first overstepped the boundaries of the Roman Empire and he at first start, [419] as they say, made his disastrous expedition against them, from that time right on to my father’s reign the barbarian power was never checked, but swords and spears were whetted against the Christians and there were battles, wars and massacres. Cities were wiped out, countries were laid waste, and the whole Roman territory was defiled with the blood of Christians. For some perished miserably by darts or spears, while others were driven from their homes and led away captive to the cities of Persia. And dread seized them all and they hurried to hide themselves from the dangers that threatened, in the caves and groves and mountains and hills. Among these some lamented aloud over the ills which their friends who had been taken away to Persia were suffering; the few others who still survived in the Roman lands were sighing deeply, and lamenting, one for a son, another for a daughter; or weeping for a brother or a nephew cut off before his time, and shedding bitter tears like women. In fact there was no condition of life free from tears and groans. Of the Emperors not one except a few, I mean Tzimisces and the Emperor Basil, before my father’s time ever dared touch the land of Asia at all, even with their toes.

All this happened before the first crusader set foot in the east.

In fact without the Crusades, Europe (and America) might well be Islamic now.


#6

I think this person has a lot of standard misconceptions about the Crusades. Personally, I don’t think there’s much there to be embarassed and shame-faced about. I would suggest looking up Thomas Madden articles on the Crusades (try firstthings.com --the magazine had an article recently, I believe) and inform yourself as to the truth of the Crusades. Then, at least if she uses the Crusades against the Church you can ask her some questions and find out just what she thinks she knows about the Crusades. She would be wearing a burqua if it weren’t for the Crusades…


#7

I like to explain it like this:

The Holy Spirit came and led the Apostles and the early Church to all Truth as Jesus said He would. What would be the point if it didn’t preserve the Church in that Truth ? This is why organs that are in a position to teach the whole Church are protected by infallibility. For example, an ecumenical council is in a position to teach the whole Church so the Holy Spirit protects it from teaching error to the faithful.

Likewise, because by the nature of his office, the pope is likewise in position to teach the whole Church. Papal infallibility is not a testament to how great the pope is, but rather how human he is. As a human, he is subject to sin and error so in order to protect the faithful from being unknowingly led astray by whatever error he may fall into, the Holy Spirit makes sure he never teaches that error to the whole Church. :thumbsup:
God allows us all to fall into error as individuals, but He protects the Church so that if we want the Truth we know where to find it :slight_smile:


#8

Here’s a good article on the Crusades:

christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/118/52.0.html

I’d love to read his book. :cool:


#9

[quote=Genesis315]I like to explain it like this:

The Holy Spirit came and led the Apostles and the early Church to all Truth as Jesus said He would. What would be the point if it didn’t preserve the Church in that Truth ? This is why organs that are in a position to teach the whole Church are protected by infallibility. For example, an ecumenical council is in a position to teach the whole Church so the Holy Spirit protects it from teaching error to the faithful.

Likewise, because by the nature of his office, the pope is likewise in position to teach the whole Church. Papal infallibility is not a testament to how great the pope is, but rather how human he is. As a human, he is subject to sin and error so in order to protect the faithful from being unknowingly led astray by whatever error he may fall into, the Holy Spirit makes sure he never teaches that error to the whole Church. :thumbsup:
God allows us all to fall into error as individuals, but He protects the Church so that if we want the Truth we know where to find it :slight_smile:
[/quote]

While I agree with what you said, it just isn’t practical to launch right into a debate over Apostolic Tradition and the Church. First I need to defuse the problems and misconceptions that she already has. After all, only then can anyone be open to what the truth might possibly be.

Oh and, try telling the average Protestant about ecumenical councils. They’ll probably know even less about them than the average Catholic does (no offense meant to either-- most people are woefully unknowing of these sorts of things). I said something about infallibility related to councils, and I got first a ‘what are you talking about’ look/comment, and then mentioned the Council of Nicea. (She was familiar with the Nicene Creed.) Oh well.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some fun with this all. :wink:

By the way, while the arguments that the crusades are good are helpful, I think I need more help with the definition of faith and morals, and with its relation to the crusades. That seems to be the sticking point. I know that her argument logically assumes the immorality of the crusades, but I have a funny feeling that it’s even more of a lost cause to argue against that, than for the definition of infallibility. Of course, I’ll hit both at the root.


#10

[quote=RobNY]By the way, while the arguments that the crusades are good are helpful, I think I need more help with the definition of faith and morals, and with its relation to the crusades. That seems to be the sticking point. I know that her argument logically assumes the immorality of the crusades, but I have a funny feeling that it’s even more of a lost cause to argue against that, than for the definition of infallibility. Of course, I’ll hit both at the root.
[/quote]

While it is certainly possible to separate Faith, (defined as teaching true doctrine) from the crusades. Morals are harder to separate, and become mixed up with Just War doctrine. If one accepts the argument that the Crusades are somehow “evil”, then you are already conceding a large part of the argument. You then seem to accept that the Church did something “evil” in originating the Crusades.

You can argue that infallibility does not cover the actions of a Pope, only his defined teachings, but if someone has convinced themselves that such a major action as the crusades was evil, then this argument will have a hard time being convincing.

It is in order to cut away the Moral Authority of the Church that Atheists and Protestant Fundamentalists try to misrepresent events like the crusades and exaggerate their negative aspects. That’s why I think accepting their outlook and misconceptions is very dangerous.


#11

[quote=Axion]While it is certainly possible to separate Faith, (defined as teaching true doctrine) from the crusades. Morals are harder to separate, and become mixed up with Just War doctrine. If one accepts the argument that the Crusades are somehow “evil”, then you are already conceding a large part of the argument. You then seem to accept that the Church did something “evil” in originating the Crusades.

You can argue that infallibility does not cover the actions of a Pope, only his defined teachings, but if someone has convinced themselves that such a major action as the crusades was evil, then this argument will have a hard time being convincing.

It is in order to cut away the Moral Authority of the Church that Atheists and Protestant Fundamentalists try to misrepresent events like the crusades and exaggerate their negative aspects. That’s why I think accepting their outlook and misconceptions is very dangerous.
[/quote]

I don’t accept the view that the crusades were pure evil. I see them as at least somewhat good. Very few wars in history are totally good.

But, the idea of the crusades being pure evil, and of them being the classic case of religion thirsting and overreaching in its step for power, it is so ingrained in some people’s minds that I doubt I can make headway against that. As tough as it would be to convince some people about papal infallibility, I think it would be tougher to get people not to look so negatively on the crusades. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s just me being cynical. I am going to argue both ends.


#12

[quote=RobNY]I don’t accept the view that the crusades were pure evil. I see them as at least somewhat good. Very few wars in history are totally good.

But, the idea of the crusades being pure evil, and of them being the classic case of religion thirsting and overreaching in its step for power, it is so ingrained in some people’s minds that I doubt I can make headway against that. As tough as it would be to convince some people about papal infallibility, I think it would be tougher to get people not to look so negatively on the crusades. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s just me being cynical. I am going to argue both ends.
[/quote]

From Vatican I (notice, the key is speaking ex cathedra and defining a doctrine which do not apply to Crusades):
9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.


#13

Oh, good point there Genesis. I looked up parts of the Catechism on it and it specifically says doctrine. Yeah, it’ll be good enough.

-Rob


#14

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