Ten Great Things About Catholicism

With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people — even many baptized Catholics — don’t see it that way.

Yet when the sins of men — secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness — blind us to this, they blind us to everything. The Renaissance, a great Catholic moment, enlightened the world by seeing it afresh with both the light of faith and the light of classical civilization, which was Catholicism’s seedbed. So, too, today, if we look on the world through truly Catholic eyes, we will find that the fog lifts, our perspectives grow deeper, and beauty and truth beckon above the puerility of mass popular culture.

What’s so great about Catholicism? Here are ten things –in countdown order — to which one could easily add hundreds of others.

10. Hope

Classical paganism, as we know, always ended in despair — a noble despair sometimes, but despair nevertheless. Eastern religions don’t offer much in the way of hope, as they are tied to doctrines of fate, cycles of history, and a nirvana of extinction. Reformation Protestantism is pretty despairing, too, with Calvin’s belief that it would have been better for most people if they had never been born, predestined as they are for damnation. Secularism and materialism are no better, as wealthy secular societies tend to have the highest rates of suicide.

But in the Catholic Church, there is hope. Salvation is open to every man willing to take it. And though Jesus warned His apostles that following His way meant enduring inevitable persecution and hatred, He also gave them this promise: The gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Even outsiders recognize this. Who ever heard of a deathbed conversion to Methodism? Hope comes from the Real Thing.

9. The Inquisition

The Inquisition? Yes, let’s not be shy. The Inquisition is every Catholic-basher’s favorite tool of abuse — though it is one that is very much not in the basher’s favor. There were several Inquisitions. The first in order of importance in Catholic history was the Inquisition against the Albigensians — a heresy that encouraged suicide, euthanasia, abortion, sodomy, fornication, and other modern ideas that were distasteful to the medieval mind. The struggle against the Albigensians erupted into war — and a war that could not be carefully trammeled within crusading boundaries. So Pope Gregory IX entrusted the final excision of the Albigensian heresy to the scalpel of the Inquisition rather than the sword of the Crusader.

Did this Inquisition of the 13th century strike fear into the people of western Europe? No. Its scope was limited; its trials and punishments more lenient to the accused than were those of its secular counterparts. Inquisitional punishment was often no more than the sort of penance — charity, pilgrimage, mortification — that one might be given by a priest in a confessional. If one were fortunate enough to live in England, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, or, with the exception of Aragon, even, at this time, Spain, the risk that one might be called before an inquisitional trial was virtually zero. The focus of the Inquisition was in the Albigensian districts of southern France; in Germany, where some of the worst abuses occurred; and in those parts of chaotic Italy rife with anticlerical heresy. In all cases, inquisitional courts sat only where Church and state agreed that peace and security were threatened. Nevertheless, the courts were abused. The Church could not modify an ironclad rule of life as true in the 13th century as it is today: Every recourse to law and the courts is a calamity. But the Church then, and people today, seemed to assume it is better than vigilantes and war. There’s no accounting for some tastes.

More famous, certainly, is the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was a state-run affair, where the Church’s role was to act as a brake of responsibility, fairness, and justice on the royal court’s ferreting out of quislings (who were defined, after centuries of war against the Muslims, as those who were not sincere and orthodox Catholics). Recent scholarship, which has actually examined the meticulous records kept by the Spanish Inquisition, has proven — to take the title of a BBC documentary on the subject –The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition. We now know, beyond all doubt, that the Monty Python sketch of inquisitors holding an old lady in “the comfy chair” while they tickle her with feather dusters is closer to the truth than images of people impaled within iron maidens. (One of the standard works of scholarship is Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, Yale University Press.) In the course of an average year, the number of executions ordered by the Spanish Inquisition — which covered not only Spain but its vast overseas empire — was less than the number of people put to death annually by the state of Texas. And this at a time when heresy was universally considered a capital crime in Europe. The myth of the Spanish Inquisition comes from forged documents, propagandizing Protestant polemicists, and anti-Spanish Catholics, who were numerous. The fact is, far from being the bloodthirsty tribunals of myth, the courts of the Spanish Inquisition were probably the fairest, most lenient, and most progressive in Europe.

The man who heads up the modern office of the Inquisition, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Panzer-Kardinal of the Vatican. Would that he would subject the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America to an Inquisition. It needs it. Indeed, here’s a new rallying cry that I’d like to see become popular: Bring back the Inquisition!

knight 28. The Crusades

All right, I recognize that this is another problem area for some milquetoast Catholics, but let’s be blunt: Do we believe in reclaiming the world for Christ and His Church, or don’t we? Medieval knights took that responsibility seriously, wore the cross on their capes and tunics, and prayed and understood an incarnational faith that acted in the world. It was these knights’ defensive war — and the defensive war of the Church and its allies up through the 18th century, for a millennium of Western history — that repelled Islamic aggression and kept western Europe free. For that we should be ashamed? No: It is one of the glories that was Christendom that in the Middle Ages the pope could wave his field marshal’s baton and knights from as far away as Norway — not to mention England, France, and Germany — would come to serve. Men were Catholics first in those days.

Today, because of Islamic terror groups, the West is again strapping on its armor. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our predecessors who were compelled to do the same.

7. The Swiss Guards and the French Foreign Legion

Though only one of these institutions is under the direct supervision of the Vatican, both qualify as Catholic institutions that should warm the very cockles of our hearts. Indeed, next time you meet a Protestant who asks you why you are a Catholic, try telling him this: I’m a Catholic because I believe in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church as founded by Jesus and His disciples and as led through the power of the Holy Spirit by the pope in Rome who is himself guarded by the Swiss guards of the Vatican whose uniforms were designed, at least some believe, by Michelangelo. If your interlocutor doesn’t immediately seek instruction to convert, you know you’ve met a hard case.

As for La Légion Étrangère, it seems to me that as the product of a Catholic culture, showcasing a Catholic militarism by accepting men of all nations and backgrounds, devoted to one common goal, and by bestowing a sort of secular forgiveness of sins via its traditional offer of anonymity for recruits, it is a good reflection of the Catholic spirit. Indeed, two anecdotes might help illustrate this fact. First, there is the spirit of Catholic realism, perhaps best told in a story from the devotional book, The Paratroopers of the French Foreign Legion: From Vietnam to Bosnia. Here one finds a Catholic chaplain in Bosnia handing out medallions of the Blessed Virgin Mother. He admonishes his legionnaires that the medallion “does not replace good cover and it does not replace armor. I don’t do voodoo here. So be careful.” Well said, Father.

If that anecdote affirms Catholic realism and natural law, here’s one that reminds us why fighting men have always respected Catholic chaplains above others. It comes from the morally offensive Catholic writer Christian Jennings, in A Mouthful of Rocks: Modern Adventures in the Foreign Legion: “This was the padre assigned to our unit. He wore full combat kit and a large silver crucifix on a chain, which matched his parachute wings…. A Spanish recruit I had been playing poker against suddenly started making faces and gesturing behind the Padre’s back, when suddenly, without taking his eyes off the Frenchman to whom he had been talking, the priest jerked his elbow backwards into the Spaniard’s face, slamming him against an oven.” Charming, n’est-ce pas? And a reminder that for most people, the faith is best taught by action and example rather than by words.

6. Art

Certainly the famous literary Catholics of the English-speaking world — John Henry Cardinal Newman, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Siegfried Sassoon (who converted later in life), and Thomas Merton — have all played an enormous part in my own conversion and continuing appreciation of the faith. Even Catholics of an unorthodox stripe (like Greene) have had a powerfully orthodox influence on me.

Writing, of course, is far from the only artistic testimony to the faith. Catholicism has always surrounded itself with beauty, regarding it as the splendor of truth. In the words of the German priest, professor, and theologian Karl Adam, “Art is native to Catholicism, since reverence for the body and for nature is native to it.” The Puritan influence is foreign to Catholicism — just as the idea that smashing altars, defacing Madonnas, and breaking stained glass as a religious act is foreign, and indeed heretical, to Catholics. The Catholic Church leaves such Talibanism to the Protestants and iconoclastic heresies. The Catholic Church, instead, offers a celebration of beauty; and beauty, in our world of pierced faces, body tattoos, gangsta rap, and concrete tower blocks, is something we could use much more of.

5. Freedom

Yes, the good old reactionary, repressive Catholic Church has been the most ardent defender of freedom in the history of the world — though it almost never gets credit for it. We live in an age of determinist ideologies — with the fate of nations and individuals supposedly determined by race, economics, history, psychology, genetics, or even — insofar as Protestants have any common doctrinal beliefs — predestination. The Catholic Church stands alone in radical defense of man’s free will.

When the media, Protestants, and dissenters tell practicing Catholics that the impulse to sexual activity is overwhelmingly powerful and can’t be controlled or renounced, Catholics alone say, “No, man is free. All Christians are called to chastity, and what they are called to do, they can do, and some can freely take on celibacy as a sacrifice to better serve God and His Church.”

When Maximus in the movie Gladiator rallies his ­cavalrymen with the words, “What we do in this life echoes in eternity,” he is speaking like a Catholic, not like a Reformed Protestant or a Muslim who believes that eternity is already written and that man has no free will.

When skeptics complain that the evidence for God is not clear or that a God who allows suffering and evil is Himself sadistic and evil, the Catholic responds, “Our God has made us free men. True freedom always comes with costs and challenges. You see, ours is not a religion of make-believe where actions have no consequences. Ours is a religion of life as it really is. And life as it really is, is a life of original sin. Catholicism is a religion of pilgrimage, freely accepted, to grow in Christ, to overcome sin.”

It is another oft-propounded myth that the Western world didn’t taste of freedom until the Protestant revolt of Martin Luther, which led to the division and state subordination of churches in northern Europe and eventually led, in some countries, to the separation of church and state and the irrelevance of church to state.

But who would blatantly say that the Renaissance — against which Luther revolted — was not free? Who would deny that the great check on state power throughout the entirety of European history, from the conversion of Constantine until the twentieth century, was the Catholic Church?

Think of the Roman Emperor Theodosius, commander of all Rome’s legions, stripping himself of all imperial insignia to do penance before an unarmed cleric, St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. It was the Catholic Church that brought a moral check to bear on the exercise and perquisites of power.

Think of the martyrdom of Sir Thomas Beckett and Sir Thomas More. Think of the Protestant revolt, which argued that the power of the state was scriptural and the power of the papacy — the power of Christ’s Church against the demands of the state — was not.

Think of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Kulturkampf of Bismarck, and later intellectual and political currents, including fascism, communism, and the liberalism of our own time, all of which saw — or see — the state as the essential thing, centralization of state authority as the central task, and state direction as the essential instrument of reform. And what was the roadblock to these “reformers?” The Catholic Church. It was the Church that asserted the independence of “subsidiary institutions.” It was the Church that defended the rights of the family against the state. It was the Church that protested, in the words of Pope Pius XI, against the “pagan worship of the state.”

The true Catholic is a natural Tory anarchist — someone who believes in loyalty to persons, institutions, and the faith (semper fidelis) – and in otherwise letting les bons temps rouler.

4. The Saints

The Catholic is never alone. God is always near. The Catholic remembers Mary. He remembers her saying yes to the Incarnation. He remembers those who have gone before him: the vast parade of saints whose personalities and attributes are so various, so free, and yet so devoted to the singular path that leads to holiness and union with God.

Catholic women — as I noted in my agnostic Anglican days, when I was dating them — had stained-glass minds: an awareness of the romance of the past and of the depth and color of Christian history, even if it was just a velleity, not captured in details or knowledge. Catholics aren’t divorced from history. They are not alone with their Bibles and their consciences. Catholics live history. They are part of the continuum of 2,000 years (or with the Old Testament, even longer) of man’s pilgrimage with God.

In the Apostles’ Creed, the earliest formulary of Christian belief that we have, the Bible is never mentioned. Individual conscience is never mentioned. What is mentioned is history: “born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” And what is affirmed is belief in God; in the life, resurrection, and coming judgment of Jesus; and then the final litany: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”

To the Catholic, life is good; the body is good (which is why it will be resurrected); and it is good for man, if we remember Genesis, not to be alone. In the Catholic Church, he is never alone but lives within the body of Christ, the Church Militant, wherein he receives the sacraments of his earthly pilgrimage; in his prayers for the dead, he remains in prayerful connection with the Church Suffering; and in his emulation of the saints and prayers for their intercession, he looks ahead to the Church Triumphant in heaven.

And what saints there are. “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle”; the beloved St. Francis, “Lord, make me a channel of Your peace”; the “Dumb Ox” of logic and reason, St. Thomas Aquinas; St. Ignatius Loyola, who showed what miracles of conversion the pope’s marines could achieve when they were all devoted and orthodox (let us hope that they will be again); and on and on in endless panorama. All this belongs to the priceless Catholic heritage. Catholicism does not circumscribe and narrow the truth and practice of religion as all heresies do but celebrates the fullness of humanity and God’s creation.

The saints show us the way. Catholics do not presume that they are saved through faith alone — as do Protestants. Salvation, of course, comes through God’s grace. But as part of our free acceptance of that grace, we are called to become holy: to work, to act, to participate in that constant drama where we struggle to live the life of a saint — to live, that is, the life of Christ. None of us is the elect, predestined to salvation, with the remainder (the majority) predestinedly condemned to hell, as Calvin taught. The Catholic believes he is called to acts of corporal and spiritual mercy and that these help him, by God’s grace, to achieve expiation of sin. Our models and aides in our never-ending effort to achieve sanctity are Jesus, the apostles, and all the saints.

3. Unity

When we affirm the Nicene Creed, we affirm our belief in the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.” The Creed does not say “many, reformed, anti-Catholic, Bible-based churches.” Nor does it say, “several nation-based, autocephalous, and selectively conciliar churches.” The Church is called to be one – one body of Christ, one bride of Christ.

Over the course of 2,000 years, its unity has denied the law of entropy. That it has avoided the most common of temptations — to embrace nationalism or solipsism as the essence of belief — always and everywhere affirming the catholicity of the Church, is proof of its authentic teaching. It is indeed a glory of the Church that it encompasses all men and can use the talents of all nations. The “elasticity, freshness of mind, and sense of form of the Roman combine with the penetration, profundity, and inwardness of the German, and with the sobriety, discretion, and good sense of the Anglo-Saxon. The piety and modesty of the Chinese unite with the subtlety and depth of the Indian, and with the practicality and initiative of the American,” as Karl Adam enumerates these qualities in The Spirit of Catholicism.

Objective truth knows no borders. Surely when Paul preached “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” he did not envisage, and would not approve of, the 20,000 or more varieties of Protestant experience. The story of the early Church is the story of the Catholic attempt to maintain Christian unity in accordance with the truth against a sea of heresies — a sea that, as a working out of the Reformation, has now in the popular mind washed away the very idea of heresy. The Reformation marks the entrance of relativism into Christian life, and relativism denies unity. More important, it denies objective truth, and therefore relativism itself can’t be true, however attractive it might be to those who, in the words of St. Irenaeus writing in the second century, are “heretics and evil-thinkers, faction makers, swelled-headed, self-pleasing.” Our unity as the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church is one of the proofs of the verity of the Catholic faith.

That unity is seen in another way, too: namely, in the way that the Church brings together reason and mystery, piety and beauty. It is seen in the way that the Church affirms all positive values — as found anywhere in history or in the world — that are in accordance with natural law and fidelity to the deposit of faith. And it is seen in the way that the Church truly accepts the unity of God’s creation and Christ’s teaching, refusing to let it be parceled up and delimited by nations, philosophers, or pedants who seek to shrink-wrap the faith to their own specifications. The true faith is universal, effulgent, and living.

2. The Sacraments

The sacraments and the visible Church are another proof and nurturer of the faith. I am among the least mystical of men, but I will gladly stump up and affirm the efficacy of the sacraments, sincerely and prayerfully entered into. With Pascal I would affirm that one actually learns the Catholic faith by doing — which is why deracinated, prissy, critical philosophes standing outside will never “get it.” The faith of the Catholic is a great drama unfolding before God, and we are the players in it. There is the awesome reality of the Eucharist, God made flesh at every Mass, and our responsibility before Him and in receiving Him. There is the visible alter Christus of the priesthood. Even those sacraments that many Catholics find painful — such as penance — are powerful reminders of the reality of God and of the necessity of both our faith and our good works.

For me, Shakespeare captured this best in Henry V. Before the battle of Agincourt, Henry pleads with God to remember his works — not his faith alone — on behalf of the Church:

“Not today, O Lord,
O, not today, think not upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown!
I Richard’s body have interred new,
And on it have bestow’d more contrite tears
Than from it issued forced drops of blood;
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a day their wither’d hands hold up
Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
Sing still for Richard’s soul. More will I do;
Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
Since my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon.”

It is extremely odd to me that Protestants should take pride in reducing the transmission of God’s grace from the seven sacraments held by the apostolic Catholic Church and Orthodox churches to two. When Protestants say that the celibate priesthood and religious life show a lack of respect for marriage, it’s worth reminding them that to Catholics marriage is a sacrament, an institution of divine grace — something rather more elevated than it is for Protestants. And for Catholics, holy orders is a sacrament, making our priesthood rather more important than a Protestant ministry. For Catholics, religion is not all in the mind. It is tangible, present, and living. In short, it is real.

1. Truth

Nothing else would matter about Catholicism if it weren’t true. But it is our firm belief as Catholics that it is true. And, indeed, I believe that the histori­­cal case for the Catholic Church is virtually irre­futable, as irrefutable as it was to Cardinal Newman. And there is something else. We know that the Church affirms that its members and servants are all subject to original sin. But while men might falter, the teaching of the Church does not. That has been our rock, tested through the tempests of centuries and undiminished through time.

Innumerable secular and other forces are against us. Even within our own midst we have been pain­fully reminded of the work that needs to be done to cleanse and purify our Church. Evil stalks the world. But then, it always has. And the Church has survived, and in the heat of persecution, it has grown in numbers and strength. Let us remember that fact. And let us always keep in mind the immortal words of Auberon Waugh: “There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible.”

Amen to that. Keep the faith, dear readers, and remember that our ultimate destination is heaven.

 

image credit: shutterstock.com

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  • Frances

    Very well said. Thank you. This reminds me to have courage when facing secular professors.

  • songbird

    Great article! I am always having non-Catholic friends get very heated about their belief in faith alone. It bothered me until I read in 1 Corinthians 10:12 :Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.” We must always remember that salvation is through grace but without works what are we?

  • JVG

    Very interesting perspective on the Crusades. This is the very first time I’ve ever seen the Crusades characterized as a contributor to the greatness of the Church. Myself and others I’m sure would be interested in hearing more from you on this issue. As it is stated now, you seem to be making the case that the Crusades should be cast in a positive light simply because they illustrate the exemplary courage, commitment, and resolve of the Pope and Knights? Please be specific, is this what makes the Crusades something Catholics should be proud of?

  • disqus_xdPymuqnXz

    Yes, without good deeds/works as Jesus instructed we’re nothing. Faith in the Holy Trinity and the resurrection are a given but we constantly need to fight the evils of this world with good deeds and love of our fellow man, and abstain from sin through prayers and finding strenght in our belief in Jesus Christ to help us on the righteous path and do penance for our sins. Catholics know we must be constant in our faith and strive always to be the best we can be if we are to see Jesus at the end of our life here on this Earth. It’s a constant battle which most Catholics fight daily for our redemption and salvation. Praise be to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

  • Richard III

    The Crusades are something to be proud of because brave and faithful Catholic knights from all over Europe set out to liberate the Holy Land, which did not belong to the Turks. It belonged to the Jews and Christians who’d lived there long before Islam was founded, so the Crusades were fought in defense of the oppressed Jews and Christians on the western edge of Asia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.potter.509 Matthew Potter

    Generally when I read blog posts, if they are more than a 5 minute exercise I skip them. I am so glad that I ignored my own rule to read this. As a cradle Catholic and one who makes his living from working for the Church, I am always impressed with the knowledge and faith possessed by converts. I am also embarrassed that so many of us who are not converts have not been catechized to appreciate the depth of riches that are ours as Catholics. I rarely, if ever, save blog posts, but today is very, very different. Thank you so much.

  • JVG

    The Crusades consist of 8 individual movements, each possessing a unique story and context. Yes, some are understood by history as defensive in nature….others were decidedly offensive.

    It seems overly simplistic to applaud any action because it was done so in courage and bravery. Much in the name of evil has also been done using courage and bravery as a catalyst.

    Pope John Paul II (one of the greats!) actually issued a formal public
    apology for the atrocities committed in the name of the Crusades on
    Constantinople.

    The story of the Crusades is far too complex (containing both atrocities and courage alike) to reduce to #8 on a list of things that proclaim the greatness of the Catholic Church.

  • Harry

    While it is true that the Inquisition wasn’t as bad as people potray it as, I think you go a bit too far in referring to them as an entirely good thing – it was born as a result of the Jews expulsion from Spain, hardly a shining moment in Jewish-Christian relations.

    Same with the Crusades. While the personal bravery and general aims of the Crusaders are to be admired, the many atrocities they committed against Jews on the way to the Holy Land, the massacre at Jerusalem and the sacking of Constantinople aren’t isolated events you can just sweep under the carpet. Reclaiming the world for Christ is an directive to evangelise, not to embark on an endless military campaign.

    And your assertion that “The Church was totally for freedom” conflicts painfully with your other argument, “It was totally fine to massacre the Cathars because of all the horrible things they preached.” Richard Dawkins says a lot of horrible and wrong things, as do many other individuals and groups – is it therefor morally licit to declared a crusade on them, put them on trial and burn them alive? Is the Church for freedom when it hasn’t got power but eagerly looks forward to the time when it can re-institute the inquisition?

  • Anita

    as a born Protestant, but going to the Catholic Church for 40 years or more, I do not understand under the Hope section, talking about Protestants rather not be born. I can promise you, as a Protestant I have NEVER been taught that, not even heard of it.

  • Michael

    Why did you write that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is prefect for the CDF? Was this written nine years ago?

  • savvy

    Did you actually read what was written? The church was trying to prevent a civil war, with respect to the Cathars, where Catholics were picking on random people for heresy. Burning at the stake, was the death penalty that was introduced by Germanic tribes, who were pagan.

  • James Stagg

    Thank you! So well said! So well written. When we focus on these items, the “trad” and the “liberal” should be moved to “center” on the important history and future of the Church….more of a historian’s point of view.

    Let’s stop the nit-picking and move foreard to evangelize the world around us (and maybe, so doing, evangelize ourselves).

    God bless you, Mr. Crocker, for your insight and for your learning.

  • JVG

    Harry,

    Couldn’t agree with you more here! The author of this post makes some serious mistakes when he conflates evangelism (reclaiming the world for Christ) and imperialism (military campaigns) into one and the same. The author is blatantly ignoring the testimony of history on this issue. Christendom (the Church united with the government and military) is a failed experiment and runs counter to the very teachings of Christ.

  • T. B.

    He was speaking specifically of Calvinists. I might add TULIP Calvinists. Though the phrase ‘better for him had he not been born’ is in the scripture speaking of Judas, it would certainly make sense to apply it to anyone predestined for eternal Hell. I agree with you though that, of course Calvinists always believe themselves to be predestined for Heaven. So, Hopelessness isn’t something they’d actually feel, just apply to others.

  • Richard III

    It looks to me like Mr. Crocker was referring more to Calvinism specifically than to all of Protestantism. What denomination are you, Ma’am?

  • Martin Savage

    Fantastic article! The Crusades were a resounding blow to the enemies of Christianity; the Inquisions were a foil to the ‘agent provocateurs’; the longevity of the Church is a miracle; beauty is absolute and not in the eye of the beholder and does lead to God and keeping God’s laws does set us free.

    If I may pick hairs; the Renaissance or ‘Re-birth’ of Greco-Romano gods-culture was a capitulation for Christian culture insomuch as it was a resurrection of pagan beliefs killed off a thousand years prior. It set the ambiance for the errors of the Reformation.

  • Ioannes

    Read his book it puts 2000 years in historical perspective and its a quick read. There you will understand. It helped me so much in my ‘immersion’

  • Nicole

    Harry,

    You are wrong about the origins of the inquisition. It began before that. Its entire purpose was to bring people to a right understanding of Truth. As for the Spanish Inquisition in particular, yes, there was misuse of the inquisition there, but that was done by the government after they had spent 1,000 years trying to reconquer Spain from the muslims. It isn’t surprising that the Spanish government was suspicious of those who had supposedly converted to Catholicism. I also must note that the inquisition only applied to those who had been baptized into the Catholic faith. They didn’t go after jews or muslims. They only sought to find out if those who had converted had done so out of a real conviction or because it was necessary to keep their political position.
    The purpose of the crusades was to retake the holy land from the muslims, not the jews. The “massacre of Jerusalem” is a myth. There were relatively few people in the city at the time and all of those left in the city were combatants in a war. The sacking of Constantinople was considered horrifying to everyone, including the pope at the time who denounced it. It would not have happened if the crusaders had been in Africa like they should have been, but they discovered that they lacked the money, so when the dethroned emperor had volunteered to pay them if they would help him get his throne, they said ok. They sacked Constantinople when the guy didn’t pay up (not really surprising when you don’t pay an army when you tell them you will). It was horrible and not justifiable, but not surprising under the circumstances. The threat at that time was not just one of ideas, but one of physical threat from a militant religion who forced conversions. Evangelization does no good if no one is left alive to do evangelization. Should they not have protected their homes and families? should they not have sought to reclaim the holy places so that pilgrims could be safe when they went there?
    Military involvement is always the last resort in the middle ages. The Cathars were leading innocent people astray into a religion which promoted suicide as a means of salvation. The military campaign however did not work and they sent in the inquisition. The inquisitors saw it as a failure if they did not convert. As Mr. Crocker mentions, heresy was a capital offense at the time. The inquisition did not kill anyone, but if they remained unrepentant the state did because of their laws. As for burning people alive, that was done by the common people. The inquisition was the means of stopping that. There were people who would hear an allegation against someone and kill them based on the presumption that it was true. The inquisition was the most humane and just court at the time.
    At the end of this you must understand that medievals believed the Truth above all else (which is something to be admired). They believed that Truth should be fought for, defended, and sought. There are people who went too far, but I would argue that modern man does not go far enough because he is so apathetic towards Truth that he is unwilling to fight for it.

  • Carolyn Schuster

    And you will see a new resurgence of interest in the Faith and conversions. The stalwart and unchanging aspects combined with a passionate loving leadership will reflect the mission we have been joyfully given-to share God’s redemptive love with a lost and dying world desperate for even the crumbs of the feast we enjoy.

  • misterheche

    With all the attention focused on Rome these past few weeks, I am once
    again reminded of the beauty, wonder, and importance of the Catholic
    Church.

    If you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church
    for a while, I can only say to you, “What are you waiting for? Come
    Home!”

    A moving, two-minute video on the beauty of Catholicism
    and the contributions of the Catholic Church to Western Civilization can
    be found at the link:

    http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2012/04/catholics-come-home.html

  • Joseph Q

    This author’s book was an outstanding resource for my investigation into my faith prior to reverting. This summary is a perfect “eye-catcher” for someone currently experiencing the same calling. Please read his book, it’s perfect for the ignorant Catholic (and I mean that as charitably as possible). I have been starving for a follow up from this guy for some time now, so I guess this is it! I know he pretty much “covered all the bases” already in his book, so I’m not sure where he’d go anyway…maybe an enlightening novel for those Catholics who prefer their history delivered with a different style.

  • Mark A.

    Regarding the Crusades, it is important to remember that the first one was launched by the Pope at the request of the Emperor in Constantinople to help him against the Muslims, who were murdering, persecuting and enslaving Christians in the East, who were also the Pope’s spiritual subjects as the visible head of the Church throughout the world (i.e., catholic). It was started out of noble, and necessary, motivations, for if he Muslims had not been stopped in the East, they would soon be moving on into the West (and they did eventually come up through Italy and try to take Rome). This was first and foremost a war of self-defense that the Pope and the secular leaders of the West was officially asked to assist with by the chief secular leader of the Christian East. Because all people are sinners, we should not be surprised that some of those who responded to this call were actually opportunists who were looking more to line their own pockets and advance their own futures than to serve the common good, but that does not make the motivation for the Crusades as a whole dishonorable, nor lesson the honor of those who responded and fought out of honorable motives.

  • Winfred

    thank you. It is a great article and I learn a lot.

  • Jayne Frances

    Totally Awesome! God bless you for this!!

  • MaterDeiOPN

    And the book is really a fun read – fully documented, but not at all one of those dry, lifeless “history” tomes!

    There is also a series on EWTN’s audio libraries with Fr C John McCloskey and it is WONDERFUL!!! Harry Crocker has a really good sense of humor – who’d have thought that history could be so hilarious?

  • Roger

    I think the point of the article is that the purpose and intent behind the crusades was just even if those involved did not always do the right thing. You can’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater and declare the crusades a mistake because some people messed up. People always mess up.

  • somefacts

    Why no mention of hundreds of years of child abuse? Cover ups at the highest levels. Why no mention of Catholic collusion with Hitler, and Mussolini? The later helping to establish Vatican City as an independent country. Oh, Catholics can do no wrong, so when they do, rewrite history. The last pope, (still in residence), was a youth for Hitler. Nazi popes and religious dopes. Why no mention of the Children’s Crusade, 30,000 children sold into slavery.

  • somemorefacts

    When you can admit you are no better than anyone else, maybe others can admit you are no worse.

  • http://twitter.com/RooForLife RooForLife

    Wrong about Hitler and Catholic collusion there is no way Pope Pius XII worked with Hitler~

    Hitler
    killed estimated 3 million Catholics even had “special barracks was set
    up at Dachau, the camp near Munich, Germany, for clergymen. A few
    survived; some were executed, but most were allowed to die slowly of
    starvation or disease.”

    http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/Newsletter.htm

    Pope Pius XII, Hitler, and the Jewish people “The Catholic Church under the
    pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving lives of as many as 860,000
    Jews from certain death at Nazi hands. [this] figure far exceeds those saved by
    all other Churches and rescue organizations combined.” (Three Popes and the
    Jews” pp. 214–215)

    Praise from the Jewish Community
    Golda Meir,
    Israel’s representative to the United Nations, was the first of the delegates
    to react to the news of Pope Pius XII’s death. She sent an eloquent message:

    “We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness,
    Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld
    the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came
    to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was
    raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice
    speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily
    conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.”

    The great
    Jewish physicist, Albert Einstein, who himself barely escaped
    annihilation at Nazi hands, made the point well in 1944 when he said:

    “Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi revolution came in Germany, I
    looked to the universities to defend it, but the universities were
    immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the
    newspapers, but they, like the
    universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual
    writers . . . they too were mute. Only the Church, stood squarely across the
    path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. . . I never had any
    special interest in the Church before, but now I feel great affection and
    admiration . . . and am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now
    praise unreservedly.”

    http://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/pope_pius_XII.php

    The
    Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi
    Germany In Rabbi David G. Dalin’s controversial new book, he explodes
    the newly resurrected, widely accepted, yet utterly bankrupt smearing of
    Pope Pius XII, whom Jewish survivors of the Holocaust considered a
    righteous gentile.

    From the Inside Flap

    Was Pope Pius XII
    secretly in league with Adolf Hitler? No, says Rabbi David G. Dalin—but
    there was a cleric in league with Hitler: the grand mufti of Jerusalem,
    Hajj Amin al-Husseini. As Pope Pius XII worked to save Jews from the
    Nazis, the
    grand mufti became Hitler’s staunch ally and a promoter of the Holocaust, with
    a legacy that feeds radical Islam today. In this shocking and thoroughly
    documented book, Rabbi Dalin explodes the myth of Hitler’s pope and condemns
    the myth-makers for not only rewriting history, but for denying the testimony
    of Holocaust survivors, hijacking the Holocaust for unseemly political ends,
    and ignoring the real threat to the Jewish people. In The Myth of Hitler’s
    Pope, you’ll learn: · The true history of Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust—how
    the Catholic Church did more than any other religious body to save Jewish lives
    · The real history of the Church and the Nazis—including the Nazi plan to
    kidnap the pope · The real agenda of the myth-makers: hijacking the Holocaust
    to attack the very idea of the papacy—especially the papacy of the late Pope
    John Paul II—as well as Christianity and traditional religion as a whole ·
    Hitler’s cleric—Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who advised and assisted the Nazis in
    carrying out Hitler’s Final Solution · How Pope Pius XII rescued Jews—and
    deserves to be called a “righteous gentile”—while the grand mufti of
    Jerusalem called for their extermination Full of shocking and irrefutable
    detail, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope is sure to generate controversy, and more
    important, to set the record straight. If you want the truth about Pope Pius
    XII, about the Catholic Church, the Jews, and the Holocaust, and about how the
    myth of Hitler’s pope plays into the culture wars of our own time—and how the
    fact of Hitler’s mufti is a vital source of radical Islam today—you must begin
    here

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Hitlers-Pope-Against/dp/0895260344/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=M1S44TG5UDUC&coliid=I2E8KIAG5WI7W

  • http://www.facebook.com/fegdlr Fe de la Rosa

    Great great great! I can’t express my great and deep gratitude to the author. Very historical and very informative. I learned much about our Catholic faith. I am going to share to all my email friends and even to my non-email friends. I pray for those who are non-Catholics because they miss the beauty, the art and the truth of the Catholic faith. By reading this…they’ll learn the greatness of the one, holy and apostolic Catholic faith!

  • Denis

    The Crusades when you look at it in context is more similar to tje Reconquesta in Spain than the US invasion of Iraq. A lot of anti-crusade sentiments come more from anti-catholic sentiments from protestants than from any real real historical facts.

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