INQUIRY TOPICS > Moral and Social Doctrine

crusades - St. Catherine


I was reading St Catherine of Sienna's book and in the bio it said she was a big advocate of wanting the church to pursue another crusade. Now I have come to understand the crusades as a very darktime in the churches history. The pope seems strong in regarding violence and religion as incompatible and when JP II actually went around apologizing for the evils that have existed in the church I was pretty sure the crusades were one of the events he was referring to. So I found it surprising that such a doctor/mystic of the church was in support of such a cause. Am I missing something or do I need to better understand the history of this era?  

David W. Emery:
Perhaps you do not understand the gravity of the situation in Europe during the times when the crusades were being preached. Muslim armies were invading. They had captured some cities in Italy, not to mention overrunning the Balkans and going as far north as Vienna and central France. They were about to devour Europe. Even if there were failures and abuses by the soldiers during the crusades, the crusaders in their counteroffensive managed to save Europe from an Islamic takeover.

You may also recall that many other well-known Christian figures, including several popes and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, preached  on behalf of the crusades. So it wasn’t just St. Catherine of Siena, and it wasn’t just for a short period of time.

Again, the crusades have had some bad press in recent centuries; this has swayed public opinion. In actuality, historians are beginning to rediscover that they were a legitimate defense of Europe and a legitimate defense of Christianity, and I recall seeing scholarly books recently published that accept this thesis.

So in answer to your question: yes, I do think we could all learn a thing or two about the crusades if we actually studied them instead of basing our opinions on hearsay and propaganda.

This does not mean that no one sinned. It does not mean that we need to whitewash everything that happened. It does mean that we need to have a better knowledge of the facts and realize that advocates of the crusades were doing no more than the many Americans who have supported President Bush in his war against terror.

Were mistakes made in the current campaign? Yes. They have been admitted. But the danger continues; Islamic terrorists are still trying to enter the US to sabotage and kill. Just the other day, the local newspaper had a story about a group of prospective terrorists (known to belong to a terrorist organization) who had been detained at a Mexican border crossing just a few miles from where I live. It’s that close to us, and yet we criticize those who would defend their homeland elsewhere and in another time.


I haven't studied this in depth, but I do hear about the massive influx of Muslims into Europe today.  There are so many in England that they have a loud voice demanding sharia law for the country!

Well, they have lots and lots of kids!  I was at an Operation Rescue rally once and got talking to a woman, Catholic, who had 8 kids.  As we talked about the battle for life, she commented, "If ya can't beat 'em, outbreed 'em!"

Unfortunately it seems that Muslims are taking this admonition to heart while the non-Muslim people in Europe have to be bribed to have more children.

I live where there a lot of people of Hispanic origin, many of them certainly illegal.  But I tell you, I'd rather have a Catholic Mexican sneaking in than a Middle Eastern Muslim.  Forgive me if that sounds racist, but Islam has not proven to be the friend of Christianity over the centuries.  I can hope that the future will be brighter, but I'm a tad skeptical.

Their basic reverence for life does not match mine.  Observe how they slaughter innocent people by the scores.  And the cowardly way they do this.  I wonder sometimes how the Iraqi people get up the courage to go buy groceries.  Imagine that that simple act means putting your life at risk!  What if heading to Safeway possibly meant being blown to pieces!  I cannot imagine...



  This is why we must be thankful that we live in these United States.  We don't have to fear that a terrorist is around the corner ready to blow us up. 

  The Muslim terrorists hope to evangelize the world, but with the sword.  Their goal is for the whole world to become Muslim, just as our goal and desire is that all may come to know our Lord Jesus Christ.  However, they don't want to take "no" for an answer.  Compromise is not an option for them.  It may be that some day, some of us may be called upon to suffer for Christ should Muslim terrorists infiltrate this country as they have in Europe.  May God give us the strength and grace to be faithful to His Son even unto death!  Allelujah!



I read from Magnificat every day and there is often a one-page description of a saint/martyr.  Just reading these gives me a little more strength and hope that, should I be faced with the choice to die or deny, I would have the courage to do the former.  Protestants miss so much when they miss the lives of these heroes of the faith.  (Though I do realize that there are MANY Christians being martyred today, sadly.)



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