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Saturday, February 19, 2011

What about the Crusades?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

What about the Crusades?  It seems that in any discussion on religion the "ace in the sleeve" of the non-Catholic is: "Well, you Catholics went around slaughtering millions of non-Catholic folks during the Crusades, didn't you?"  Silence often is the embarrassed response. You know, as I was researching this topic, I remembered why history class made my eyes glaze over:  because it's boring. 

After reading one too many mind-numbing articles about "feudal systems" and phrases like "the states remained vulnerable, and in 1144 the northern state of Edessa was captured by Muslim forces" I decided that rather than tackle this subject of the Crusades I will simply quote apologist Jimmy Akin, from this article:

"Christians today certainly should deplore evil acts committed during the Crusades, such as the massacres of innocent Muslims and Jews that periodically occurred, as well as the entire debacle of the Fourth Crusade. However, the enterprise of the Crusades themselves had two important goals at its core: the defense of Christian civilization against outside aggression (making the Crusades as a whole wars of self-defense) and securing access to the holy sites that commemorate to the most important events in world history."

Also, for those interested, there's a discussion on the Catholic Answers forums, here, on the Crusades.

More interesting to me, and somewhat on the same topic, is a discussion on the Church and Galileo.  The perception is that the Church persecuted Galileo, and in doing so this proves that the Church cannot be infallible, and that that she (the Church) is an enemy of science and intellectual pursuits.

In response to the latter criticism, please see this list of the great number of Catholic physicists, scientists, astronomers, etc in history who contributed to western civilization--all through the patronage of the Catholic Church.  The CC is not the enemy of science, but, rather, its biggest enthusiast.

And the Catholic Church has been the champion of faith and reason, together, as a means of discerning truth.  There can be no contradiction between religion and science, for both are truth and both find its authorship in the same Being--God.

As for Galileo, where he made his error was in proclaiming that his scientific theory of heloiocentrism (the sun is the center of the solar system) was a theological truth that trumped Scripture.  Scripture has a few verses which seem to indicate that the sun does not move: 
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed--Josh 10:13.  Galileo proposed that Scripture, then,  was in error.  The Church objected to this, for the Church has always proclaimed that Scripture is inerrant.  To be sure, as we have stated earlier, Scripture is about truth, not about facts.  So even when Scripture states that the sun rises and sets (Malachi 1:11), it is not proclaiming a fact of cosmic motion, but rather proclaiming a truth about eternity.

Regarding infallibility:  "The Church has never claimed ordinary tribunals, such as the one that judged Galileo, to be infallible. Church tribunals have disciplinary and juridical authority only; neither they nor their decisions are infallible.

No ecumenical council met concerning Galileo, and the pope was not at the center of the discussions, which were handled by the Holy Office. When the Holy Office finished its work, Urban VIII ratified its verdict, but did not attempt to engage infallibility." source

The judgments and consequences imposed upon Galileo were disciplinary and procedural, and not related to theological dogma or doctrine (see previous discussions on discipline vs dogma/doctrine).  If the Church had proclaimed anything regarding Galileo with regard to dogma, it could not have reversed itself.  However, on
October 31, 1992, Pope John Paul II proferred an acknowledgment of the errors committed by the Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo.
One other comment:  despite secular sources which claim that Galileo was tortured for challenging the Church, history shows that he was not tortured, nor even imprisoned.

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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