Objections to Crusades Answered
Did people speak out against the Crusades? Yes, but as historians Louise and Jonathan Riley-Smith explain,"Criticism of crusading…was much less widespread…than is often believed." And when objections did arise, they could be forcefully answered, as shown in the following treatise. Humbert of Romans, a former leader of the Dominican Order, wrote this "closely argued tour de force" in about 1272. Here are brief excerpts, translated by the Riley-Smiths:
There are some men given over to leisure who avoid all labor for Christ and are in the habit of condemning the measures the church has undertaken against the Saracens, like people, to use Jerome's words, who always pass judgments on everything and can think of nothing to do themselves. These people are like those spies who disparaged the task of gaining the Promised Land,and frightened the people, and therefore were destroyed in the desert.
Christ and the saints did not shed blood.
Objection: Some of these critics say it is not in accordance with the Christian religion to shed blood in this way, even that of wicked infidels. For Christ did not act thus; rather, "When he suffered, he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly,"as Peter says. The saints of old did not teach this either. One should conclude, therefore, that the Christian religion, which ought to adhere to the example and teaching of Christ and the saints, ought not to initiate wars of any kind whatsoever.
Answer: Who is so stupid as to dare to say that, were infidels or evil men to desire to kill every Christian and to wipe out the worship of Christ from the world, one ought not to resist them? It is clear in the teaching of Christ himself, who says, "He that hath no sword, ...