When Urban II wrote this, was he right or wrong or what?

Urban writing from the chair of Peter, writing as if what he says has authority says this:

"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!”

I also wonder if we could imagine Paul writing something like this or Jesus saying something like this? After all, Urban is putting words into Christ’s mouth is is not?

Who was this “base race” and what was the purpose of Christians trying to avoid be conquered by them? What was at stake?

I recall God saying something not so very different to the Israelites on more than one occasion. Why would Christ speak any differently?

Also, can you cite the source for the quote? There are some “quotes” that came after the fact where folks wrote what the Pope “should have said”, that don’t quite match what he actually wrote/said. I can’t tell if your quote above is the former or the later. It appears to be the rendering of Fulcher of Chartres some years later.


If this is your position then it’s your position I suppose. I’m not her to argue, but rather curious if Catholics really believe this.

So did he not write any of this then?

“He didn’t really say any of this” is an acceptable response if true. I would love to learn the historical reliability of what was said.

I don’t know, because I’ve not read his actual writings. But I suspect that the quote is from Fulcher due to its similarity to Fulcher’s writing.

Fulcher’s version is very different from that of Abbot Guibert who attended the Council of Clermont (A.D. 1095), where the speech was delivered. You can view several versions of the speech here.

Why? Is a just war in defense of Christendom so hard to believe came with the authority of the Church?

[quote=Urban II][1] “I, or rather the Lord, beseech you… Moreover, Christ commands it.”

[2] “destroy [the Arabs] from the lands of our friends.”

[3] “that vile race…a despised and base race.”

[4] “pagans…[who] worship ] demons”

[5] “All who die by the way…shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested.”

I added numbers to make the bugaboos easier to cite. Are the numbered selections objectionable to you, dronald? Is there anything else in the full quote that you find objectionable? Do you find any of the above selections okay?

If I’m not mistaken, the Pope may be referring here to what we call indulgences. Somewhere I have read something concerning this decree from the pope. The “immediate remission of sins” may refer to the satisfaction the priest gives us to perform after confession. The Church does have the power to grant indulgences by which we can satisfy for all the temporal punishment that may still accrue to us after our sins are forgiven. You might want to check if this particular decree from Pope Urban may actually refer to the granting of an indulgence which at this particular time in the Church’s history were becoming more popular.

In fact, I just found on the wikipedia, that what you are quoting is indeed the granting of a plenary indulgence by the Pope. It says “The earliest record of a plenary indulgence was Pope Urban II’s declaration at the Council of Clermont (1095) that he remitted all penance incurred by crusaders who had confessed their sins in the Sacrament of Penance, considering participation in the crusade equivalent to a complete penance.”

It should be clearly stated (for non-Catholics) that Catholics hold sins to have both eternal and temporal punishment. Eternal punishment can only normatively be forgiven through confession. Indulgences don’t forgive the eternal punishment. Indulgences are only for the temporal punishment. A person can be on track to Heaven having been absolved of the eternal punishment for sins through confession but still warrant temporal punishment for sins either in life or after death (in Purgatory). God is merciful AND just.

I do not know if the quote is accurate, but I agree it does sound like he is speaking of indulgences for going off on the crusade to protect Christian lands, which was the original intent. I do not know if everything in this statement (base race… worship demons…) would be considered infallible. That could be fluff around the pronouncement, and not having to do with morals or theology. I’ll leave that to those more educated in canon law and how the Magisterium works.

So you believe that Jesus or Paul would have said/wrote similar things for the Disciples to believe and follow, or no?

Again I’m curious and not looking for an argument. I find the thought reprehensible considering the conduct of Jesus and His Apostles, and I don’t think all Catholics believe this.

"On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you

Well done! Yeah, the whole thing is not Christ like.

[1] “I, or rather the Lord, beseech you… Moreover, Christ commands it.”

[2] “destroy [the Arabs] from the lands of our friends.”

[3] “that vile race…a despised and base race.”

[4] “pagans…[who] worship ] demons”

[5] “All who die by the way…shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested.”

This did encourage others to kill, and lead to much havok. The idea that joining in on killing others can forgive sins is just terrible; but it did influence.

He certainly seemed to think he was speaking on behalf of Christ in his statements; and I’m sure he convinced many people, didn’t he?

This crusade was not considered offensive, but defensive. Christian lands in the east were being conquered by an advancing Muslim empire, and the world of that age was not organized as it is today. While there were many independent countries in the Christian world, they all had one faith and thought of themselves as Christendom. You could almost think of them as a very loose confederation in that respect, and when lands were being lost to the East to a non-Christian force, this was seen as a threat to all of them. This was not just a “let’s go kill some infidels” adventure and putting it in a 21st century context for analysis is not appropriate, because government, nations, society, and religion were not viewed the same way then as they are now, and they did not relate to each other the same way as they do now. The kings of Christian nations weren’t just secular kings, either. They were Christian annointed kings.

As for the speech, a different recorded version of the speech was linked above, with a very different tone than what you provided.

So “Christ commands that we destroy the Arabs, the vile race who worship demons for remission of sins.”?

This is considered what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior taught and wanted us to believe was right?

I thought this was actually something written by him, although I’m willing to accept any historical facts regarding the words in this letter.

You’re misquoting your own source. Read the full sentence that mentions destroying. He’s speaking of driving conquerors out of Christian lands (land of our friends), and this is also to prevent further advancement.

Sure, so “Christ commands that we destroy the Arabs, the vile race from the land of our friends, who worship demons for remission of sins.”?

This link was provided above. According to this, only five accounts of the speech survive, and they don’t appear to be written by Urban. Those five versions are available here:


There’s also much more context to the speech than what you posted. Where did you quote yours from?

Edit: I think it’s the Fulcher version,

Did God, in the person of the father, not command similar of the Israelites, as pointed out by another poster? Do you believe Our Lord, Jesus Christ, willed Christendom to be destroyed at the hands of the Seljuks and others?

The historical facts are that the words you quoted are not known to be written or spoken by the Pope, and instead were the words of another man who may not have even been present. See post #5 for a link to several such quotes, one by a man who was actually there…but still provides no assurance that his words are one in the same as what the Pope actually said.

So, really it’s a moot point at best, and misrepresentation at worst, to ask “When Urban II wrote this…” because Urban didn’t write it.

From there, it becomes a discussion of whether some Catholics feel like those words, whomever they belong to, are representative of a Christian message. Given the historical situation they were in, and the fact that Christianity was not yet being threatened with extinction when Jesus was walking the earth, I’d say the words are not out of line.

But again, it’s a moot point because there is no evidence that a Pope ever spoke them.

Or by the Romans immediately after His death right?

I want to think that the Pope never said anything like this. I wonder then though what convinced the rich and poor to join in the Crusade?

I think it comes down to this:

  1. Did the Pope claim remission for sins for those who seek out to kill others and die in combat?

  2. Did the Pope call them vile and/or worship demons?

  3. Can the Pope really declare these things and say Christ is really the one speaking?

  4. Should the offenders really be “destroyed.”?

If the answers are yes, then can we say that Jesus would have taught this to His Disciples and the Apostles too would have taught this way of thinking? If so, then why is it so absent from the Christian message that we read in the NT?

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