Jesus is ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Is. 9:6). As St John Paul II said, war always represents a defeat for humanity. Yet the Church is realistic about the presence of sin in the world, including amongst her own members, which produces conflict. Thus, while individual Catholics may adopt a strictly pacifist position, the Church teaches that war in strictly defined circumstances may be justified as the lesser evil. The Crusades lasted for 200 years from 1095. The Crusaders’ motivation was complex. Some sought economic gain or military glory, but most were inspired by faith. Jerusalem had been occupied by Muslims for 400 years prior to the First Crusade but, on the whole, people of different faiths co-existed peaceably.
The Crusades were a response to the new Seljuk Turkish rulers who destroyed the Holy Places and disrupted pilgrimages. While the Church promoted the recovery of the Holy Places, popes and saints were horrified by the outrages committed by some Crusaders. Possibly the worst excess was the sack the Christian capital of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade as the Venetians exploited Byzantine rivalries. Far from condoning this, Pope Innocent III excommunicated those involved. While not denying the wrongs committed, the Crusader kingdoms were at times relative beacons of culture and tolerance.
July - August 2017
Recent Blog Posts
- Blog: 08.08.17We are all aware of the horror of the terrorist attacks in recent years and of the senseless attack outside the mosque in Finsbury Park, London. It is inspiring how brave those who work in the emergency services are and how strong the community support has been in all these cases. As Christians, ...Read More
- Blog: 12.01.17
- Blog: 13.12.16
- Blog: 09.10.16On his blog and in a recent Catholic Herald piece (9.9.16) Bishop Robert Barron offers some excellent reflections upon a recent Pew survey looking at reasons why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. He well shows how Roman Catholic leaders and teachers are dangerously underestimating ...Read More
- Blog: 23.08.16
- Blog: 08.08.16On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in which a narrow majority of voters in the United Kingdom (nearly 52%) voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”. This contrasts with the large majority (67%) who had voted to join the then European Community in 1975. ...Read More