VERY Curious Infallibility Question

At the Second Lateran Council, 1139, the following condemnation was promulgated:

Canon 29. We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on.

Ok. So what gives?

The murderous art of crossbowmen and archers is hateful to God?




Swords, spears, cannons, tanks, guns and bombs are (apparently) fine, but crossbowmen and archers are out?


A little help? Anyone?

God Bless,

No, crossbowmen and archers are “out”, as well as guns and bombs.

Want to fight a war? Kill people? Do it “face to face”.


Notice, this was decreed during lent; so I suspect it was only a lenten abstinence . He, he :wink: 40 days without your crossbow…you’ll survive.:wink: And of course you can USE them…you just can’t “**employ them against Christians and Catholics” ! ! **

(There was no need to abstain from tanks, guns , and bombs since this was the year 1139 long before thier invention.:thumbsup:)

Anathemas are not used just for dogmatic and doctrinal issues, but also for policy and disciplinary decrees. Notice it says “from now on” instead of saying this is a timeless truth. It also has nothing to do with belief, or holding a truth, but rather deals with abstaining from a practice of those times. It’s also only prohibited in certain circumstances–Catholic on Catholic combat.

Hmmhh…very interesting question. Would this be considered a matter of faith and morals, or more of a disciplinary guideline? Of course, there is that anathema…

If this was an infallible teaching, one must then assume that it is still in force, despite wholesale violation over the centuries since.

Again, anathema’s were used for all sorts of things, not just definitively proclamations of doctrine. The fact that it was allowed in the past, but they’re not going to allow it anymore shows it is not some sort of inviolable timeless truth. At the most, it is the application of a timeless principle to a specific set of facts.

Dear Iambic Pen,

For your consideration:

  1. the theological matter of the canon seems to be the moral prohibition against murder, which under any circumstances is grave matter.

  2. The crossbow was a common weapon of the Muslim Saracen against the Crusaders. The anathema should be viewed in that context.


So from what I gather…

  1. This was a disciplinary ruling, not doctrinal. As such, it’s like the Council of Jerusalem’s (Acts 15) prohibition on eating meat sacrificed to idols (which St. Paul later rescinds - 1 Cor 8). Because it’s disciplinary (not doctrinal), the Church is free to rescind the provision at any point.

  2. One poster said “if you want to kill people, do it face-to-face.” That’s a nice sentiment, but that’s simply not what the canon said. I don’t believe the future development of guns, bombs or tanks would be implicated under this canon (despite being more lethal and at greater ranges) – just crossbowmen and archers. I still wonder, though: is this canon still in effect?

  3. From what I can reckon, the reason underlying this prohibition was that these types of weapons indiscriminately kill. A volley of arrows would kill the drummers as well as the knights, and the Church has always stood opposed to the negligent killing of non-combatants. This disciplinary ruling underscores that proper moral judgment, and is therefore completely valid.

Does that sound about right?

Am I missing something?

God Bless,

I know that Infallibility is on the issues degreed by the Pope of Rome on issues of Faith & Morals…therefore, the sport of crossbow shooting doesn’t seem to meet that criteria.
Meanwhile, I am truly confused at how the Catholic Church has an Infallible Pope, but yet seems not to have any real control of the Church. Each individual parish seems to do their own thing when it comes to Liturgy aka Mass. In some parishes, the Tabernacle is in the Church & in other Roman Catholic Churches the Tabernacle is down the hall, around the corner, two doors down on the left in the closet of that room (literally!). What is the point of having Infallibility or having a Pope, Archbishops & Bishops? If they don’t enforce the teachings of the Church?
I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I just really don’t understand. Since leaving the Catholic Church for the Orthodox Church, which has no ultimate authority other than the Original Councils, there are no issues or problems with this type of thing. You go from one parish to another between Greek, Russian, OCA, Serbian, etc. & the Tabernacle is always where it’s supposed to be and the actual Divine Liturgy (Mass) is identical. I really don’t understand…the true Church is supposed to be “One”, but I only see division in the practice of Faith & Morals in the Roman Catholic Church, the true Church is supposed to be “Holy”, but I just went to a daily Mass in a Catholic Church which took all of 20 minutes and did not see/experience anything which appeared to be holy. I clearly see that both the Orthodox Church & the Roman Catholic Church are both “Catholic” & “Apostolic”.
Someone, please explain this to me.

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