The Crusades

Published November 26, 2020, 11:00 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

About the year 1,000 there appeared in Europe the urge to reconquer the Holy Land from the Muslims. The Muslims from the early seventh century started to conquer the Eastern Christian kingdoms.  The Western kingdoms then had the intention of reconquering the Holy Land. The first and third Crusades were successful in taking back Jerusalem. But all the others including the ninth were failures. Some even attacked Eastern Christian armies. The Muslims became so powerful that they threatened the Western Christian nations. It was only the battle of Lepanto that saved the kingdoms of the West.

One good effect of the Crusades was the western voyages of exploration that it fostered.  The Muslims conquered the Middle East, all of North Africa, and Spain.  It was only the uprising of the kingdoms of Castile and Leon that cleared the Muslims out of Spain. They supported the voyages of Christopher Columbus that brought him to America and later the voyage of Magellan that brought him to the Philippines and for his crew to circumnavigate the world.

The Protestants

Luther was a pious monk who was bothered with fears of salvation.  He was a gifted theologian who objected to the problems of simony, politics, and other problems in Western Christendom. He came therefore at a time of corruption in the Catholic Church.  He had legitimate reasons for reform. He came also at a time of the invention of the printing press.  And his work of translating the Bible into German was important.  He probably had no intention of separating from the Catholic Church but he was worried about his salvation and he came up with the theology of salvation by faith alone and later guidance by the Bible alone.

He therefore came at a congeries of events that pushed him to separate from the Church.  There was a clamor for allowing the priests to get married, to receive Communion in both species, for the liturgy in the vernacular, and getting the popes out of temporal matters in the Papal States in Italy without touching the primacy of the popes.

Then came Zwingli and Calvin who worked for the split of western Christendom.  And there was Edward VIII in England who wanted a divorce from Mary his wife which the popes would not give it to Him so he split from the Church. But it was his daughter who Elisabeth I finished the split.

The founding of the American British colonies coincided with the height of the Protestant revolt.  Its theology was salvation through faith alone without the need of works and guidance through the Bible alone.  But having separated from the Church there was no authority to interpret the Scriptures. So there are now over 34,000 Protestant sects in the US since everybody interpreted the Bible according to his own lights. Many evangelical learned Protestant pastors have turned back to the Church (see and hear Rev. Grodi in ESPN), especially in their study of the early Apostolic Fathers like Ignatius of Antioquia.  But for every one of these there are six ignorant of their faith Catholics have turned over to the evangelicals. How this will end we do not know.  Only the Lord knows. The important thing is to save our souls into the bliss of eternal life in Jesus our Savior. Did Our Lord establish one Church on the rock of Peter or the myriads of sects as in the present US?

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